We’re happy to present our growing team of youngsters. Meet the coaches and staff here at LCKC.
I was born by the beautiful “blue” Danube River in Hungary. I don’t remember, of course, but my mom told me that I was swimming in the Danube before I could even barely walk! That’s how it started, with my dad, whom loved the water, and so did many of our family and friends, therefore, boating trips was a part of our lives. I can still smell the Danube now!
Around the age of 7, I was doing all kinds of sporting activities: handball, soccer, tennis, as well as doing gymnastics, karate, and swimming with my dad in the mornings. One day one of my buddies was going to try this sport, “kayaking” (a sport, which had and still has professional, salaried athletes – it’s HUGE in Hungary), so of course I said, “let’s go!” After trying kayaking, I fell in love with the sport; so, I dropped all the other sports and started enjoying life on the water!
Fast forward to the year 1998, it was the Flat-water Kayak Racing World Championship in Szeged, Hungary. There were over 25,000 spectators cheering for the racers. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I won 2 silver medals in the K4 – four-man kayak. Then in the year 2000, my kayak partner and I were in the double kayak (K2 500m) at the Hungarian Qualification race for the Sydney Olympics. This division was very strong and only one boat could qualify. The team that defeated us (by less then a half a second) went on to the Sydney Olympic games, winning gold. They were the best, and that is when I realized that after spending an amazing 20 or so years of my life with this sport, it was time for a change. It was time to move on!
I retired from racing and came to the US in 2001 to visit family. In 2004 I moved to San Francisco and discovered Surf Skis. In 2008 I moved to Hawaii and learned the Hawaiian way of life, to really enjoy life and go with the flow.
After coaching the Hawaiian Canoe Kayak Team for 5 years I decided to move to Gainesville in January, 2019 to become the Head Coach of Sprint at LCKC in addition to my role as coach for the American Canoe Association's sprint national team. I want to grow LCKC into the face of Kayak and canoe sports in this country.
Director of Dragon Boat
Competitively relaxed best describes Jim. A Masters competitive member of LCKC from 2002, he followed his daughter’s wake into the sport. O’Dell quickly began to read about, observe, and question his and other coaches about the nuances of flatwater sprint and dragon boat racing.
Jim is an ICF World Championships medalist and 9-time World Champion in dragon boat racing, is the Chief Steersman, SE Regional and Junior National Team Coach with United States National Dragon Boat Team, Dragon Boat USA.
His coaching experience ranges from our middle school program for a number of years in the early 00’s, served as interim sprint head coach for the first several months of 2006, coached the Masters division for a year and has filled in throughout the years when high performance coaches have been away. He accepted his role as a full-time coach for Sprint in 2015, and as Director of Dragon Boat in 2019.
Jim had been Head Coach and served on the Board for a number of years for the Atlanta Festival. He currently serves as the Head Coach of the Gainesville Hall Dragon Boat Challenge, and trains the youth of LCKC to coach teams and steer these craft for this event, for Corporate Team Building and other events, and then recommends them to dragon boat production companies.
As a Team Building Facilitator, O’Dell uses his background of training adults most of his professional career in Occupational Safety and Health and Human Resources. Dragon Boats are a great tool for corporate team building, and Jim has hosted local, regional, national and multinational companies ranging in sizes from 8 to over 100 participants.