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July 12, 2014

Kayaking twins take hobby to river-racing level

CHICKASHA —

Gliding through the water, twin sisters Janet Howard and Janice Cockrum are surrounded by nothing but nature.

Deer come down to drink at the water's edge, buffalo run near the shore, and even a few trout swim along, undisturbed by the gentle paddling of kayaks. There are no roars from motorboat engines, no sounds of country music blaring out from a boat party deck; they enjoy the water in a different way.

"We'll go up into little tributaries that boats can't go in," Cockrum said. "It's very peaceful. This is a very earth-friendly way of fishing and getting out on the water. You can imagine that's what it would have been like years and years ago."

It's been four years since the pair picked up kayaking as a hobby, and each summer they seem to grow more and more in love with it.

This year both took first place honors home from their respective divisions from the 33rd Annual Outdoors Inc Canoe and Kayak Race. Cockrum's husband, Dwaye, Howard and Howard's grandson, Treyton, also picked up podium spots as the trend picks up pace in their households.

"It was just to see could we do it," Howard said. "Could we paddle three miles?"

The distance was the first obstacle, as none of the quartet had ever rowed so far before. It was Ninnekah student Treyton's first time competing ever, and a second place finish in the 14-17 year olds 10-foot division. Howard, a kindergarten teacher at Friend School, took first in the 10' 6" division while Cockrum, a nurse for Chickasha Public Schools, won her 10-foot division.

Wayne Cockrum, who finished third in a 10-foot division, is at least partially responsible for this kayaking trend in the first place. Cockrum said when the couple would go into outdoors shops, she would find him looking at the boats and glancing through canoe and kayaking magazines.

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