Two of the best kayakers in the world rode the local rapids on a hot Georgia afternoon Thursday.
Claire O'Hara won seven world championships in various kayaking events in eight years. She called the rapids on the Chattahoochee River "amazing" after her first time on them.
"They were super smooth and super fast," she said before getting into a second boat to go out again.
Jez Jezz has won three kayaking World Cups and more than 10 national championships. He's kayaked in Europe, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Canada and South America.
He said he's impressed by what the area has on the Chattahoochee.
"This is a world-class feature," Jezz said. "Waves are hard to create."
Jezz and O'Hara both rode the rapids in short, wide kayaks. They bounced around in a trough in front of a curve of foam. O'Hara dipped under the water as her kayak flipped, only to pop back up a moment later.
Jezz, the head coach of the Australian freestyle kayaking team, said making artificial waves this well is impressive.
He said the area is bound to change as soon as more people get wind of the kayaking courses.
"This is still a bit of a sleeper," he said.
"Not many people know what you've got down here, but people will flock to it. People travel the world to get to these features."
Jezz coaches at Falling Creek Camp in North Carolina and teaches kayaking to children.
He said he brought a group of 12 to 16-year-olds from the camp to Columbus so they could practice on the rapids.
"For these kids, it's perfect training," he said. "Not only do I know I'm coming back, but for these kids it's perfect training."
Jezz watched the kids as they jumped into the rapids in short, wide kayaks, shouting encouragement when one finally landed a move he'd been practicing.
In freestyle kayaking, Jezz explained, the boater has 45 seconds to do as many tricks and moves as possible. The move the kid did, called "the roundhouse," involves aggressively moving into a wave edge before being bounced backward into the air.
Jezz said he also did some training for the World Championships in Ottowa, Canada, on the course. When he competes there in six weeks, he'll have prepared in part on the Chattahoochee.
"You've got such an amazing thing here," he said.