CrossFit for armed forces

Hydro Mash comes to Crown Park Sept. 6

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Stacey Nilles takes a brick from one end of the Camas Municipal Pool to the other during the 2013 CrossFit North Pacific Hydro Mash competition.

Athletes in Camas and Washougal are turning the concept of CrossFit on its head by pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits while being submerged in water.

“You enter a zone where you are not only being asked to perform at your maximum capacity, but move weights, strategize, communicate, limit oxygen intake and relax,” said Polly Albright, co-owner and head coach of CrossFit North Pacific, in Washougal. “The water rewards those who master control of their bodies and their minds. The ability to generate power is directly proportional to one’s ability to relax, and combining CrossFit and water exposes this like nothing else can.”

The CrossFit North Pacific Hydro Mash returns to Crown Park, 120 N.E. 17th Ave., in Camas, Saturday, Sept. 6, at 9 a.m. It will feature a combination of aquatic elements and CrossFit workouts.

“Everybody gets a little scared in the water,” Albright said. “For people to be able to control that fear and overcome it is something that not only helps in the water but in life in general.”

The Hydro Mash is open to 18 teams, each consisting of two men and two women. Register online at Cost is $120 per team. All of the proceeds and donations from this event benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. This organization provides financial assistance to severley-wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel and their families, as well as educational opportunities to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps members who lost their lives in the line of duty.

“I was in the military for eight years. I saw many families who witnessed a loss,” Albright said. “In a nutshell, the fundraiser competition is all about teamwork, fitness, water and supporting our nation’s warriors. The fact that people are swimming underwater with weight who are not special forces is just awesome.”

CrossFit North Pacific kids coach Tracey Stinchfield looks forward to stepping outside of her comfort zone at the Hydro Mash.

“The moment when people say, ‘I can’t.’ That’s when they should do it,” she said. “I didn’t grow up swimming. That panic you talk about in the water, that’s me. But that fear also inspires me.”

Dave Nilles and Jeremy Goodwald pushed themselves to exhaustion completing a series of traditional CrossFit challenges Wednesday. They lifted weights, performed reps on rowing machines and bounced medicine balls off targets during a series of timed sessions. Both Washougal residents participated in the first Hydro Mash last year.

“It’s already tough enough as it is,” Goodwald said. “And when you add water, it makes it even more challenging, which is good.”

Nilles looks forward to the next objectives on land and in the water Sept. 6. He hopes to see more athletes and teams pushing themselves to the brink.

“It’s a little bit of bodily suffering for the day, but nothing compared to the people we’re raising this money for,” Nilles said. “We’re all able to suffer together for a good cause.”

Washougal siblings Abby and Tanner Lees have been coming to CrossFit North Pacific together for about a year. Although Tanner is only 14, attempting these exercises in the water appeals to him.

“My goal is to keep up with everybody else and try to beat my sister,” he said. “She’s better than me at some things, and I’m better than her at some things. We try to equal each other out and push each other to get better.”