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10 ways to go for Olympic gold in Tampa Bay

Unleash your inner Inigo Montoya at the Tampa Fencing Academy.

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Unleash your inner Inigo Montoya at the Tampa Fencing Academy.

Archery

Get into bows and arrows without breaking a sweat. Lake Park, at 17302 N Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz, has a free practice range maintained by the Gasparilla Bowmen, who hold monthly shooting events from February through August and open shooting year-round. Bring your own equipment. Arrowhead Archery Shop, at 10818 U.S. 92 E in Tampa, has an indoor practice range and sells bows and arrows starting at $50. To reach the Gasparilla Bowmen, call president Tom Alfonso at (813) 935-8179.

Badminton

Sure, you can buy a cheap set and try it out in your back yard. Better still is the University of South Florida badminton club, which plays a few nights a week and on weekends at the Campus Recreation Center next to the SunDome. Newbies can show, pay the $5 guest rec fee and start swinging at the shuttlecock. Bring a racket or borrow someone else's in a pinch. Go to web.usf.edu/~usfbad/ or call (813) 984-6317.

Equestrian

If your idea of going for gold involves a tall beast with soft brown eyes, then get a leg up on equestrian. Keilyn Inc. stables offers riding lessons six days a week at its 15-acre boarding and training facility in Lutz. Private and group classes available. Riding hat provided to first-time riders. Go to keilyninc.com or call (813) 948-8544.

Gymnastics

You don't have to be 3 years old and shimmy into a leotard to get your Mary Lou Retton on. LaFleur's Gymnastic Club, at 10205 Anderson Road in Tampa, offers a drop-in adult tumbling class on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. For $12 per session, coaches will teach you whatever floor gymnastics you want to learn. Call (813) 264-5000 or check out lafleurstampa.com.

Rowing

It's no surprise Floridians are drawn to rowing. The Stewards Foundation, which promotes rowing in Tampa Bay, offers classes and learn-to-row days out of its boathouse at the Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park along the Hillsborough River. They are free to anyone 12 and older and held every fall and spring. The 10-class course is scheduled largely on demand and costs $300 per person. Go to rowtampa.com or call Denny Antram at (813) 205-4013.

Synchronized swimming

If you're graceful and can hold your breath David Blaine-style, then Tampa Bay Synchrays is for you. The group practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. at Bobby Hicks Pool, 4120 W Mango Ave. in Tampa. Non-swimmers will be given a water jogging belt. Unlimited lessons for men and women are $20 a month. Go to synchrays.com.

Table tennis

Call it Ping Pong and the purists might smash you over the head with a paddle. The Sunrise Table Tennis Club runs 27 tables at four locations in Clearwater and Palm Harbor. Evening and Saturday games draw the younger crowd. Get tips from the pros or play on a machine that shoots balls onto the table. Go to sunrisetabletennis.com or call Margo Lindsay at (727) 669-0899. In Hillsborough, Tampa Table Tennis plays Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Port Tampa Recreational Center, 4701 Lancaster St.

Team handball

It's kinda like soccer, but with your hands and a small rubber ball. Try it at the Hillsborough Community College Tennis Complex at 3901 Tampa Bay Blvd. in Tampa. The two handball courts are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and court rental is $3 a day. Experienced handballers tend to hang out there, so someone should be around to explain the rules and let you know about upcoming tournaments. Call (813) 348-1173 or go to hcctennis.com.

Water polo

If treading water for hours on end is your idea of a good time, then join up with the co-ed Tampa Bay Thunder Water Polo Club. Practices are Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Shore Pool, 901 N Shore Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Cost per visit is $5 pool fee plus $2 equipment fee. Schedule will change after Aug. 14. Call (813)-226-8686 or go to thunderwaterpolo.com.

Fencing

En garde! Tampa Fencing Academy, at 7044 W Hillsborough Ave. in Town 'N Country, provides electronic blades, so scoring's a breeze. Anyone over age 8 is welcome, so sign up for an adult class or get the family together for a group lesson. All equipment is provided. Classes are $65 a month, or $20 per 20 minutes of individual instruction. Go to tampafencingacademy.com or call Michela Larocca at (813) 792-8501 to schedule a lesson.

10 ways to go for Olympic gold in Tampa Bay 08/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2008 4:30am]

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