About Us

Olympic Outdoor Center was founded in 2001 on the San Marcos river and Interstate 35, where kayak instruction and paddling could be done year round.

Our Mission: To enhance lives through creating river adventures for all ages and abilities.

Our Vision: To be the top instructional center for kayaking, Paralympic Canoe/Kayak, and wounded warrior adventure therapy.


In 1994 this non-profit called the Red River Race Team took off by offering classes and competitions.  After our founder, Ben Kvanli, competed in the 1996 Olympic Games in Kayaking, he and fellow athlete/coach, Mark Poindexter, helped to start the USA Canoe/Kayak Jr. Olympic program.

One of the first participants in Texas was Adam Sanders, who had brittle bone disease, and he showed us the power of the healing waters of the San Marcos Springs.  He had never been able to play with other kids safely, but he found that on the water he could keep up with the other kids.  As a result, his brother, David Power, and his wife Debbie helped purchase the Olympic Outdoor Center at the headwaters of the springs.

In 2002, with Mary Beth Kvanli, we took our first crew of wounded vets kayaking.  Just like with Adam, the freedom of being on an even playing field electrified them and encouraged us to look for opportunities to enhance more unique individuals’ lives.

We expanded these opportunities by helping to build a whitewater course on the springs with the help of three time World Cup Champion and Olympian Scott Shipley, Rebecca Ybarra Ramirez of the San Marcos CVB, the City of San Marcos, Texas State University’s Dr. Jim Kimmel, the San Marcos Lions Club, photographer Patrick Cavan Brown and Tom Goynes and the San Marcos River Foundation in 2005 -06.

Team River Runner became our partners in working with the wounded warriors when Joe Mornini visited to paddle with us at Fort Sam Houston in 2005 and again for the opening of the Center for the Intrepid in 2007.

As a result we have led kayak trips, events, and classes for the VA hospitals in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Temple, and have taught close to 50,000 people to paddle with stability and style.  Our daily training and weekly events and trips have given paddlers the opportunity to make the US National Team every year since we started, and we work to make that goal achievable by every athlete that we train. One of our athletes, Andy Soule, moved to San Marcos to paddle the springs every day in preparation for the Bi-athlon, and was the only American to take home medal in the 2010 Paralympics with his bronze!

Our Red River Racing Team also included the top paddlers in men’s and women’s kayak, as well as Va’ah on the 2012 National ParaCanoe Team.

Come be a part of the team, and you will see why we paddle every day. . .


So many people have helped us over the years. We appreciate each and every individual who has donated their time and energy to all the many programs that we offer at Olympic Outdoor Center

David and Debbie Power

City of San Marcos

The TG Canoe and Livery

Jackson Kayaks

Team River Runner

Larry and Sharri Lewis

Kelly Howard

Bayou City Outdoors

Larry Bracken

Phil Pilkington

Russel Nebgen

Mike Hickey

Linda Nolet

John Van Ness

Braca-Sport Paddles

Patrick Brown Shadowdetails

John and Gayle Easley

Steve and Shelly Smith

Jim Felix

John and Anne Olden

Dr. and Mrs. Peter Bross

Brooke Army Medical Center

The Dale Family

Dan and Fay Barry

Miguel Garcia – HiOSilver

Mary Beth Kvanli