Masters Women’s 2023-2024 – Ark Aces

Ark Aces History 

In 2019, the USRA hosted the Nationals Competition in Salida, Colorado, inspiring a group of local female paddlers to form the Ark Aces. The team secured a spot for the doomed 2020 IRF World Rafting Championships in China. Over the next few years, The Aces persisted through multiple competition cancellations, continuing to train and run rivers. Last summer in Canon City, the Aces once again secured the USRA women’s masters spot in the IRF competition and are excited to finally race with the international rafting community in Bosnia and Herzegovina this summer.

Instagram: @arkacesraftingteam

Facebook: Ark Aces Rafting Team


Lisa Ledwith:

In 1999, Lisa Ledwith fell in love with running rivers after guiding her first season on the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, CO. Since then, she’s floated on as many rivers as possible and feels happiest when she’s running whitewater in a deep desert canyon. She joined the Ark Aces in 2020 and is stoked to paddle abroad with this team of amazing women. She lives in Salida, CO with her husband Wiley and son Jack. 


Samantha Bahn:

Growing up swimming in the ocean, I accidentally stumbled on river life while visiting a friend in the Arkansas Valley in 2001. I immediately became a river rat and moved to Salida from Washington, DC! I love looking at the river in a racing zone and I love being on a team! I am a middle school teacher at a projects-based school that specializes in environmental and outdoor education. My husband and I own a dog daycare and boarding kennel. I worked as a commercial raft guide for 5 years, love long desert river trips, and love to stand-up paddle board. When I am not on the river, I am in the yoga studio also practicing balancing poses. I am so inspired by the women on my team on and off the river! I go by a lot of names: mama to my two kids, Ms. Bahn, Samantha…but call me Sami on the river!

What advice would you give to those wanting to give raft racing a try?: You either have a clean line or a story to tell.


Cari Beasley:

I have been lucky to live in the beautiful rafting community of Salida, Co for over 30 years.

I love being on the river and am grateful to have found raft racing. Raft racing has encouraged me to build my strength and skill while being part of an amazing team and community who treasure our rivers. I am a Registered Nurse and work as a school nurse. When I’m not rafting or working, I like to explore the outdoors mountain biking, skiing, hiking, and camping.

I am excited to represent the USRA at Worlds in Bosnia 2024! 


Samantha Barron: 

I love everything about raft racing, being on the water with strong, smart women; pushing and expanding my limits; working hard as a team for a goal; supporting my teammates; and connecting with people in the river community. 

My love for the river was born in my youth canoeing with my Dad in the warm waters of Virginia. After moving to Colorado and after the shock of the cold water I transitioned into kayaking and then after having kids of my own, transitioned my rivercraft once again, this time into rafting. I began raft racing in 2019 and it has helped me be more focused on my personal health and on my relationships with others.  Every so often something crosses your path in life that is intriguing and a bit scary. If you just try it, you might find it can change your life… you might just need a small nudge. 

My personal goals are to Be all in! Put in the time, focus, dedicate, and push myself to be the best I can be while supporting my teammates, empowering other women, and enjoying the journey.  

Shelly Carlos:

Rafting has taken me to so many beautiful, remote, and important places and along the way I have met the most gracious, caring and fun people. I believe in living the good life! I work as a nurse with oncology patients and I am a mom to two kids.  I have a great husband who supports all of my endeavors.  My athletic background is mostly just playing outside. I enjoy riding my bike, skiing in all forms, hiking and playing on the river.

I love being part of a team.  It adds accountability, camaraderie, learning, and fun to the river.  It helps to push you to places you might not ordinarily go. I hope to become more knowledgeable, encouraging and motivating as I move deeper into my role as team coach. I would like to develop a deeper connection with my teammates.  As a team, I would like to see us standing on the podium having worked hard and had a lot of fun getting there.