Welcome to Central Florida!

Bienvenue. Welkom. Bienvenidos. Herzlich willkommen. Bem-vinda.

No matter how you say it, we welcome the world to our waters.

Welcome to the Water Ski Capital of the World!

Visit Central Florida is proud that the iconic waters of Winter Haven - where Dick Pope Sr. elevated show skiing to a worldwide phenomenon - will host the 2022 IWWF World Water Ski Show Tournament, featuring the best performers our sport can gather.  We hope each and every one of you enjoys your time in our community, your time on the water and your days in the sun.  

neal duncan sm
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  • 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road - Auburndale, FL 33823
  • Phone: +1 (863) 551-4750
  • Neal@Centralfloridasports.com

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Water Skiing

Winter Haven, Florida

Baseball has Boston’s fabled Fenway Park.

Football has the legendary Lambeau Field.

For water skiers, no location is as storied as the banks of Lake Eloise, the home of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. It is fitting that the central point in the sport’s centennial celebration is here in Florida’s Sweetest Spot.

Nowhere else in the sport has had more records broken or inspired the continued evolution of the sport. Water skiing may have been invented in 1922 by Ralph Samuelson on Lake Pepin in Minnesota, but Dick Pope, Sr.’s Cypress Gardens and Central Florida’s Polk County transformed it into a global sport and entertainment phenomenon.

Fast forward 2022

The 2022 IWWF World Water Ski Show Tournament, slated for Oct. 19-23, 2022, features teams and individuals from around the world competing in the international recognized discipline of show ski. Each team will perform a one hour spectator-friendly show that combines entertainment with world class athletics. The USA Water Ski Show Team has won the team title each year. Teams expected to participate include the United States, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Australia, China and a few exhibition teams from new countries joining.

Reflecting Winter Haven’s Place in Water Ski History

Looking back to Winter Haven’s vintage water ski seal, the logo honors the long history of the sport and the city. Nowhere else has as many records or sport inventions created than on Winter Haven lakes. While the sport may not have been invented here, thanks to Dick Pope Sr. and the post-World War II water ski shows at Cypress Gardens, Polk County has become the sport’s mecca. By the 1950s, Hollywood took note and Winter Haven became the Hollywood of the South thanks to movies such as “Easy to Love” and “Deep Adventure.”

Breaking Records

All this attention from Hollywood, in turn, drew greater athletes to the area. By the 1970s, nearly every innovation and record of the sport had been set on Polk County waters. Today, the Chain of Records event continues that legacy, breaking national records and setting Guinness World Records. They continue to keep traditions and continue to place Winter Haven on the map as the Water Ski Capital of the World.