Posts Tagged ‘swampy’

Will Rhea: Jumping at Worlds

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

I was very lucky to be chosen as a member of the U.S. Junior barefoot team for the 2014 Worlds in Australia. I had only competed in one tournament, but I learned to jump inverted at the WBC, and that became my ticket to Australia. I really want to thank Swampy and the ABC for taking a chance on me, and giving me the opportunity to compete at Worlds. The entire experience was amazing. It was by far the most fun trip I have ever had.

Having just learned to jump inverted in October, I was very nervous when Swampy told me that I had to land a jump at Worlds. I landed two jumps in the first round, and thankfully made it to the second round. On the ride back to the condo, Swampy told me that I had to land an 18 meter jump for the team. I started to get nervous, but inside I knew I could do it. All I could do was pray that God would help me do my best, and that helped me not to be so nervous.

Thankfully, I landed my first jump in the second round. I heard everyone cheering, and found out that my jump was exactly 18 meters even! This gave me a huge boost of confidence, and with Swampy’s coaching, I landed my third jump at 19 meters even! I had made it to the finals!

I was the first jumper on the water in the finals. I landed all three of my jumps, and the biggest one was 18.7 meters. I was very happy to finish strong, and I sat down to watch the other jumpers. After everyone was finished, Ben Groen came up to congratulate me on winning a bronze medal. I was very surprised and excited at the same time. It was the greatest feeling, and I think that was the best part of the trip for me. I will remember my first Worlds forever!

By Will Rhea



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Will Rhea: Lessons from Barefooting

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014


I love to barefoot water ski. It is a fun and challenging sport. Over the years, barefooting has helped me grow mentally and physically stronger, and I have learned some important lessons about life from the sport.

Barefooting has taught me to be more respectful of my parents. They are the ones who make the sport possible for me. It takes a lot of time and money to compete in the sport, and I am thankful that they support me.

Barefooting has also taught me that if I want something, I have to work hard for it. I have learned not to quit when I fail, but to work harder. I do not expect to get things right away like I did a couple of years ago.

If I had a hard fall when I was younger, I was done for the day. I would get very mad and give up easily. The WBC instructors have taught me that messing up is just part of the process of getting better. I have learned that no matter how many times I fall, I should not give up until I succeed. Now, every time I learn a new trick, I want to succeed no matter how many falls I have to take.

It is a great feeling when I know I tried very hard and I succeeded. That is a life lesson for many things. Barefooting has helped me become more mature in so many ways. I am glad to be a part of this sport.

Will Rhea

Collin Barber: Christmas Break at the World Barefoot Center

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

The first time I went down to  the World Barefoot Center was over the Christmas Holiday Break in 2011. Every year my family and I would go to Florida for our Christmas Break and usually on one day of the trip, my dad, my little brother, and I would go to a ski school to barefoot. Well during this trip, we were getting ready to plan our annual trip when the ski school told us they would be closed on the only day we could go. My brother and I were relieved because let’s be honest… Vacation time was to relax and have fun. And barefooting was work. I liked barefooting at the time, but not enough to do it on vacation every year!

Of course, my dad called around and eventually got on the phone with the WBC. When my dad asked if they would be open, it was Swampy I’m sure who answered, “Yes sir, we’re open 365 days a year”. And despite the groans from me and my little brother, we were off to the World Barefoot Center.

That day was absolutely FREEZING for Florida. I remember I couldn’t believe how cold the water was. Despite the cold, we skied throughout the day. My goal was to work on getting up backwards. My dad wanted to clean up his front position. And my little brother’s goal was to get up backwards too. My dad ended up skiing only in the morning. My little brother ended up skiing one set because it was so cold. I ended up skiing the whole day though and I managed to accomplish much more than backwards. I learned how to do front toe-holds too. I didn’t even know what that was until that day. And I couldn’t believe I learned how to do it!
Even though I was dreading going to a ski school over Christmas Break, I learned a lot in that one day and started a passion that will continue. If it wasn’t for that one day, I would’ve never gone back multiple weeks to ski, improve, and become a sponsored skier. That one day showed me a whole new world of waterskiing and shaped my life so much in the long run. I definitely wouldn’t change any of it.

Collin Barber

Evert Aartsen, Jr.: A Month of Barefoot Training at the WBC

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

I will be spending the whole month of May at the World Barefoot Center. I will be cleaning up my turns during this month and hopefully starting to work on some more multiple turns, one foot turns, and toe turns. I hope to get my trick score up a lot this season, and of course slalom and jump too.  Tricks is my weakest event of the three, so I will be working most of my time here on tricks.

I will be spending two times a day in the garage doing dry land practicing on turns to build that muscle memory.  I also plan to spend time in the boat when Swampy is coaching Keith St. Onge, David Small, and Ben Groen–this helps a lot for my skiing, just to listen what Swampy has to tell them, that makes me think about that too.

I want to learn a lot during this month so I can become a better skier. Swampy, KSO, Dave, and Ben are just the right people to learn from!

Evert Aartsen Jr.

Evert Aarsten Jr.: My First Tournament

Barefoot Water Ski School

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

The World Barefoot Center is the #1 Barefoot Ski School to learn how to barefoot water ski for the first time.  The World Barefoot Center has the experience in their staff on and off the water.  Visit the website and follow us on Facebook to learn more about us.  We promote safety, fun and learning the right progressions from the start.  No matter what level of skier you are you’ll be able to learn how to barefoot water ski.  We have taught people that have never water skied before.

If you want more information or have questions please call us at anytime! (863)-877-0039  We offer great summer rates when staying longer than one week.

We also offer traveling clinics from our professionals.  Clinics allow families, friends and clubs to hire us to come to their personal site.  We use your boat and teach from beginners to all levels at your location.

World Barefoot Center / Barefoot Water Ski School

Ski School Rates:

How WBC Changed My Life

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

There are many ways the World Barefoot Center changed my life. The first time I went to WBC in December 2009, I just came as a simple skier.  2009 was my first year competiting in the Open Men division. There, I met the two bests skiers  in the world and the best coach I ever had (Swampy). When I arrived in Florida, it was my first clinic out of Europe and also the first time I had to train in such great conditions for December month compare to the French winter.

In 2009, I already had couple Europeans titles in Junior and Open, so throught that my progression was close to the maximum. But when training really started with Swampy, I realized that I was far from the skiing I could expect for myself! At that point, I just felt like a beginner instead of practicing barefooting for over ten years, and that feeling is “digusting”! By pushing me so hard in trainings and making me fall on basics, Swampy just broke all the self confidence I had in my skiing. (And he almost made me cry.)

After that, my goals in this sport totally changed and I wanted to learn– and learn as much as possible in the short time I was spending in WBC. So Swampy started to build a totally different skier and a new person in myself! In a short leap of time, I transformed into a coachable skier.  I had new goals to reach and new steps to overcome to be the skier that they expected me to be: “a world class skier” like the poeple I met at the WBC.

A couple weeks later back home, I received an email from WBC and they wanted me to be a part of the team! I could not refuse the offer, so it has been a great pleasure to accept it! Accepting it was the first commitment I was doing in the sport, and it motivated me more to be a good skier  with everything that engage… so I choose to go back there to spend a bit of summer time at WBC!

At the WBC, I became involved in the sport like I never did before and trained the hardest that I could do every day. Spending a full month training in Florida made me more mature in my way of training for events and preparing myself to reach the goals that I set. Life is a challenge that you train yourself everyday to succeed in!

Shortly after leaving WBC, I faced new steps to overcome: the end ofsummer time means studies are coming back, so I had to deal with my main two activities that are barefooting and studying. The easy way  would be to stop one of those, but I could not do it! So I choose to apply the way of thinking I learnt in WBC and decided to overcome the difficulties that face me. Now my success in both just depends of the work that I  give in each.  The hardest thing has been sharing my time between my passion and my studies. My desire of being a champion is the same of being the best student that I can!

So whatever happens to you, just work the hardest you can to reach it and overcome it, never turn back!

Clement Maillard

Georgia Groen, Featured Footer

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Georgia Groen was four-years-old when she set her feet on the water for the first time but she doesn’t remember it. “I got into barefooting because my whole family barefoots,” Georgia said.  When she says her whole family is into the sport, she means it. Ten members of the Groen family all walk on water and they’re quite passionate about the sport. So passionate that they built their own barefooting lake  in New Zealand.

Georgia was eight when she entered her first barefoot tournament.  “I was really excited standing on the dock and just being in a tournament situation,” Georgia recalled. “I think I took 130 points in tricks, and I don’t remember about slalom.”  Georgia remembers what came next: learning to barefoot backwards.  “It was very hard to learn–backwards is very different than forwards–it was hard for me for a while.

As hard as it was to learn to ski backwards, it was even more challenging to learn to jump. “Jumping was the hardest for me. I learned to jump when I was twelve,” said Georgia. “I was really nervous and scared, because my mom had a jump accident.”  Back in 2006, Georgia’s mom, Brenda, crashed head-first into the jump ramp. She spent three months in the hospital and has fully recovered.  Georgia has since learned to approach her jumps with complete confidence and a strong mind.  “If you’re scared, that will control you,” she said. “So forget about being scared and just concentrate. That will keep in you in control.”

During the summer, Georgia is out on the water nearly every day with  her three brothers, Ryan, Mitchell and Tyler.  During the winter months, they pull out the dry suits and continue to ski until they take a month or two off when the cold sets in.  The kids’ dad, Fred, is their coach and driver. “Without my family, I couldn’t be where I am today,” said Georgia.

Before heading out to the 2012 U.S. Nationals and the Worlds, Georgia spent some time at the World Barefoot Center learning how to bring her skills to the next level. Georgia’s cousin, Ben Groen, is one of the instructors at the center.  “Swampy taught me to jump better, I learned all my turns and he taught me some mental control stuff –like to stay humble and to keep trying to better myself,” said Georgia.  Her goal at the 2012 Worlds was to become the Overall Junior Champion and bring home at least one medal in the Open Division.  “The most challenging tournament was this year’s world championship,” she said.  “I competed in two divisions Girls and Womens–and  made it to all the Junior finals and two of the three for the Open.  I took all the gold for the Junior Division and that was awesome.  It was challenging for the Womens Division– I had to fight for that gold in tricks.  I couldn’t believe I did  it until it happened!”

Georgia has some big plans for the future. She wants to become a World Champion in the Womens Division and set a new Junior record in slalom.  “Right now I have one and half more to break it,” she said.  “My best is 14. 4, 16.1 is the record. A  few more to go,  but I will practice. For sure, that’s my goal.”

Georgia in the news:

One News, New Zealand

Otaki Barefooters Land Top Spots

New Girls World Trick Record

Sportswoman of the Year

Emerging Sportswoman Award

The Kapiti Observer: Sportswoman Award

Georgia Smashes Skiing Records

By: Karen Putz

Keith St.Onge “TIES” Ron Scarpa’s National Overall Titles

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Read about Keith St.Onge in the local news.  Just click on The Ledger link below.

Breaking Ron Scarpa’s record of National Overall titles has been a dream of mine since he retired in 2005.  I had beaten Ron Scarpa at six Nationals before his retirement and I never thought the record could be broken until I received my seventh National Overall Title.  I would have to win seven more titles and I had a few tough competitors like Lane Bowers and AJ Porreca.  Lane Bowers was showing sings of retiring and his strong event was jumping, which was my weakest event and that put me in a bad position for the Overall.  I was able to hold off Lane in the 2006 Nationals but it wasn’t an easy one…”he kept me honest!”  is the least I can say.

Keith St.Onge & Lane Bowers

L-R, Keith St.Onge & Lane "Dawg" Bowers competing against each other many years prior.

AJ Porreca was a young man climbing the ladder quickly in the sport with the help of my coach Swampy and I.  He was showing signs of being the next US super star!  He was skiing so good and I was being pressured not to make one little mistake!  Otherwise, he would slide in for the Overall Title.  Granted, he still had a lot to learn but again, I was being kept honest.

AJ Porreca the 2012 Open Pro Trick Champion, left - Keith St.Onge

2010 was a breakout year for AJ and he became the forth person in history to score over 11,000 points.  He stood up incredible trick runs at the 2010 Nationals again putting pressure on me.  He came runner up to me in the tricks event.

In 2011 he again put a great score on the board.  In 2012 he skied great in choppy water conditions.  He skied about 7,500 points from what we gathered before my run.  I knew what I needed to beat him and fell about 3/4 of the way through my first pass.  Coming back I was bouncing all over and thought how in the heck am I going to beat him?  I needed at least two back to back 360’s and two 720 back to backs.  I got through my 360’s miraculously and now it was time to pray for the next two tricks.  I started my first 720 and instantly caught sideways.  I knew AJ had beaten me in tricks for the first time in his career.  I was happy for him and taking second place to him was an honor.  When he received his first place medal he got a standing ovation!

All I could concentrate on was landing a jump to secure my 13th Overall Title, which would tie Ron Scarpa.  I was able to land my first jump to secure the title but winning these titles has not been an easy task.

As my body gets older and my mind becomes wise I can’t wait to surpass the legends record of 13 Overall National Titles.  Everyone keeps asking me how many more Nationals will I be skiing in the future but all I can think about is winning one at a time for now.  One more will break the record and that’s what I’ll focus on.

By: Keith St.Onge

2012 Women’s Barefoot Week at the World Barefoot Center

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The 2012 Women’s Barefoot Week will be held October 13 to October 20 2012 at the World Barefoot Center.  This is a week exclusively for female footers.  Even Keith, Dave and Swampy get to join in on the fun and get in touch with their feminine side during this special week.

To reserve your dates, call the World Barefoot Center at:


Some beds are still available at the bunkhouse and at a rental home down the street.  If these are full, there are local hotels available:

Accommodations Winter Haven

Holiday Inn Express
200 Cypress Gardens Blvd.,Winter Haven, Fl. 33880 tel 1-863-292-2100
$109.00 per night / On site restaurant
Mention World Barefoot Center (WBC) for the ski school rate

Hampton Inn
202 Cypress Gardens Blvd.,Winter Haven, FL. 33880 tel 1-863-299-9251
$99.00 per night with a complimentary continental breakfast per person
Mention World Barefoot Center (WBC) for the ski school rate

Days Inn
1150 3rd St. SW, Winter Haven, FL. 33880 tel 1-863-294-4451
$54.95 per night with 20% off Meal Coupon
Mention the World Barefoot Center (WBC) for the ski school rate

Best Western
$59-89 (depending on room location) 863-324-5050
Mention World Barefoot Center (WBC) for the ski school rate

The nearest airports are Orlando and Tampa.  Call the school to arrange for airport pickups.

Here’s a glimpse of last year’s Women’s Week:

And from the 2010 Women’s Week:

Surface Turns on my Bare Feet!

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Turns are a BIG part of barefoot water skiing. Before you can even begin to learn turns, you must learn all of the basics. I had to have all of my one foots and toe holds down. Swampy told me I had to be able to trick over 2000 points without doing turns. My trick run would be toe up, toe hold, toe hold, 360 tumble to 1, 360 tumble to 1, one foot, one foot, hop, sit down stand up to 1, sit down stand up to 1, sit down stand up to 2, then I would do a back deep, get into line step position and do one foot, one foot, hop, (get out of line step) back toe hold, back toe hold. All of the basics really help with turns, especially the front and back toe holds. Once you have mastered the basics and are solid with it all, you are ready for turns. The reason you must learn the basics first is so that you do not pick up any bad habits, because bad habits are very hard to break. It’ll be easier if you just learn the right way.

My first front-to-back came as a real shock. About four days before I did it, I had worked nothing but back toe-holds and line step position. I was already solid on my front one foots and toe holds. After finally getting my line step, one, one, hop, back toe, back toe, I was able to start learning turns. I had done turns on the WBC shoe skis before, but it was a long time ago, and they weren’t consistent. One morning, A.J. and Ben took me out for a set of turns on the WBC shoe skis, and it went very well. My basic front to back was my best turn out of all four of them. For the rest of that day I had just kept working turns on the shoe skies.

The next day, Swampy and A.J. took me out to try a couple turns on my feet; just to get the feel of them. As I jumped in the water, A.J. told me that turning on your feet and turning on the shoe skis are not much different. He also told me not to over think it, because once you start to think about it, you’re not going to make it. So I got up and just pictured myself on the shoe skis. I turned with my pivot foot and made my first front to back. I had made it on my first attempt. I was so shocked and didn’t know what to think, say or do, so I just floated in the water laughing. I was SPEECHLESS and EXCITED!! As soon as I made that turn, I was so surprised that I looked at the camera, as I was skiing backwards, and said something I probably shouldn’t have. Once I had made the first one, I tried a few more, but failed the rest. Two days later, I went out with Ben and Brody Meskers and made two more front to backs and my first back to front. One of the main things that help THE MOST is to just not think about it; just do it. I want to thank Swampy, A.J., Ben, Keith and Dave for a fun week and teaching me all that they did!

By: Chandler Cargile Chandler Cargile makes Front to Back!