Da Da, 33, jumped into the cool water with his feet on nothing but one strip of wood and sped off toward the far end of the lake at Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park in Shunyi district under the sizzling sun last Sunday.
"It was like I was gliding through the water like a legendary Chinese kung fu master," he said.
"It is very good to be in the cool water on this scorching day. Water skiing is so much more suitable than sports like basketball in summer."
With Beijing's summer temperatures consistently reaching over 35 C, extreme water sports enthusiasts are finding a rare source of relief in activities like water skiing, flyboarding, and the latest trend in China, taking a seaplane out for a ride.
Running on water
Thanks to E Min, the founder of Aishangshui Cable Water Skiing Club at the Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, cable water skiing, a sport popular in Europe, has been available in Beijing since the club's opening in 2013.
E, a six-time winner of the Water Skiing Championship in Asia between 1985 and 1997, said tow boat water skiing is more costly and difficult than using a cable because it relies on a motorboat to give momentum, providing uneven speed.
"The electrically-driven cable gives the skiers their momentum and the speed is set, making the sport more accessible," he said.
On average, the club caters to about 50 guests each weekend. Guests pay 250 yuan ($40.3) for two hours of water skiing, excluding equipment rental fees.
There are aspects of safety that all guests at E's club need to follow, not only including having swimming skills, but knowing tricks for minimizing risk on the water. Each guest gets a briefing on basic positions and how to recover after a fall before they are allowed to ski.
"If they fall face down, they need to untie the board and turn around," E said.
"The skiers also need to wear a helmet and immediately get out of the cable track area if they fall so that they do not get hit by other skiers."
People like 43-year-old Hauke Heis from Germany are confident the sport is safe for the whole family if they follow the rules and wear protective gear. The Beijing expat often brings his wife and two daughters to the club to water ski.
"The sport exercises your whole body, arms and legs," he said. "It can also greatly improve the body's balancing ability. It's a lot like snow skiing."
Heis said he likes to touch the water with one hand while skiing. "Feeling the water rapidly flowing under my hand and feeling the breeze in my face makes me fully enjoy the sport."
It's only the fifth time since Da started cable water skiing, but he said he is already not satisfied with only sliding on the water, so he has begun learning some tricks. In one, he jumps from the diving platform instead of starting in a sitting position.
"You have to wait until the rope you're holding that's linked to the cable is straight, then make a jump and make sure to lean backward," Da said.
"It's important to lean back the whole time so that you don't fall on your face in the water and swallow water or even suffocate. I have fallen so many times that I have rhinitis now."
Yao Changsheng does somersaults while flyboarding at Qinglong Lake. Photo: Cui Meng/GT
Like an Iron Man
As the motorboat's engines began to get louder, 21-year-old Yao Changsheng, a coach at Beijing Haiyunlai Flyboard Club in Qinglong Lake in Huairou district, lay on the water face down with his knees pulled up to his chest.
Suddenly, he rose out of the water with two jet streams pushing him upward to 2 meters, 5 meters, then 10 meters.
Yao smiled confidently from his "jetpack," waving and doing somersaults like the superhero Iron Man is famous for doing.
Flyboarding uses a long hose attached to a board that pushes water to a pair of boots with jet nozzles so that riders are pushed upward up to 18 meters, according to Yao.
"It is so cool to fly this high. It feels like I am getting away from the Earth," he said.
Yao started his relationship with flyboarding last November in Sanya, Hainan Province. Now he does tricks, like somersaults and jumps.
"The sport requires great balancing ability and body strength," Yao said.
"I still remember the first time I got in the water with the flyboard. I fell so many times, and my knees were swollen the next day."
But for beginners, coaches at Haiyunlai keep the water pressure low so that the streams are under 2 meters.
"As long as the flyboarders wear life jackets and try not to fall on the water backward [so that they don't hit the hose], they should be fine," Yao said.
Haiyunlai, which opened in 2011, is just one of Beijing's flyboarding clubs - enthusiasts can also now go to Qinglong Lake in Fangshan district, which opened in May.
According to Yao, interest in the sport is rising - this year they are catering to between 20 to 30 beginners each month, whereas last year, they received around 10 new people each month.
Chen Shengjun, 32, is one of the people who tried flyboarding for the first time last Sunday at Haiyunlai. At first, Chen constantly fell into the water when the water streams started to push him up.
"I have filled myself up with lake water from falling in. I think I can skip lunch today," Chen joked.
After just around five minutes, Chen started to find his rhythm. "The trick is to step on the water, while keeping your body straight and balanced," he said.
As Chen stood on the 2-meter streams, he shouted to his wife on the shore to record the moment, which lasted all of five seconds.
After 10 minutes in the water, Chen said he already felt exhausted. "I think after 10 days of training, I will be able to do somersaults like the coach," Chen said, panting while climbing back to the shore.
To get up close and personal with the water, more Chinese people are opting to fly a seaplane, an activity that especially became popular after Hollywood star Brad Pitt bought a vintage seaplane as a birthday gift for his wife Angelina Jolie last month.
Chu Peng, 32, a sales manager from a pharmaceutical company in Beijing, flew in a seaplane in February in the Maldives.
"At first, I was afraid that the plane would turn into a submarine because I had never seen a plane take off from the water before," Chu joked.
As the plane took off, Chu said he was amazed by the broad view the plane offered, and the pure blue ocean just beneath him.
"The plane flew just round 1,000 meters high, where the passengers could see the view down below clearly," Chu said.
"Besides the ocean, you could also see some small islands from up there."
According to a China News Agency report in April, Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province has started seaplane tourism with flights to Shengsi Island and Shanghai.
The report also said that in the following months, seaplane routes in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and Suzhou, Jiangsu Province will be opened.
Chu said he is looking forward to flying a seaplane directly from Zhoushan to Shengsi Island someday. "The beautiful Qiandao Lake is in Zhoushan, and Shengsi is a great place to see the tide," he said.
"Compared to traditional transportation, like taking a bullet train, flying a seaplane from one city to another saves tourists a lot of time, and the plane ride itself is a fresh, pleasant journey."