Lakeland Water Ski Club
The Lakeland Water Ski Club was formed in 1949 in Lakeland, Fla., by Bill Clifford, Glenn Kirkpatrick and Matt Obinger. The three intercollegiate and national water ski competitors had recently graduated from Florida Southern College when they formed the club on Lake Hollingsworth. Clifford later became the first paid executive director of the American Water Ski Association when it was formed in 1952.
The club has sponsored tournaments continuously since its inception, including the Lakeland Open, which celebrated its 61st year in 2009 and is the longest continuously running 3 event water ski tournament in the world. The club has hosted 1955 AWSA National Water Ski Tournament and in 1958, 1966, 1968, 1974 and 1975 the Southern Regional Water Ski Championships. The club has been a pace-setter and innovator in many fields. The first 3 round record capability trick tournament was established in 1974 and was the premier event during the first week-end in May for more than 10 years. This was during the period when trick skiing evolved from 5,180 points to more than 9,000 points. More than 80 World and National trick records were set at this premier tournament.
The club also has hosted many national and regional barefoot, kneeboard and show ski tournaments over the years, and even hosted some circle ski racing events during the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1970 the club sponsored the first circle ski race sanctioned by the American Water Ski Association.
The club also has been a leader in water ski shows, performing during the winter for Lakeland residents and out of town visitors. The club has received many awards in show ski tournaments, and it continues to compete on a regional level.
Since its inception, the Lakeland Water Ski Club has been supportive of every facet of water skiing, and many of its members have served on the national committees and board of directors for the American Water Ski Association, National Show Ski Association, American Kneeboard Association, National Collegiate Water Ski Association, American Barefoot Club, Water Skiers with Disabilities Association, American Water Ski Educational Foundation and USA Water Ski.
-Distinguished Members of the Lakeland Water Ski Club:
-Six members have been inducted in the American Water Ski Educational Foundation Hall of Fame.
-Five members have received the Award of Distinction from the American Water Ski Educational Foundation.
-Eleven members have been inducted in the Florida Water Ski Federation Hall Fame.
-One member was the Executive Director of the American Water Ski Association.
-Four members served as the Executive President of the AWSA Southern Region.
-Seventeen members have served as a National Director for a Sport Discipline.