After my epic time in Dublin, I returned ready to hit the gates. (not literally as that would be a two second penalty…) I had a great week of training, feeling more and more confident on the water. But with little direction on what to improve and what to do it was hard to tell how I was doing. Luckily I had other US team members randomly giving me pieces of advice (thanks Brett!!)
Like every week the weekend was coming up and the Midland Canoe Show was going on near London at the Nene Whitewater Course (also know as the Nenbezi)
I paddled my evening session on Saturday and headed out with the one and only Rhona Dempsey in her convertible cooper!
We slept at the Square Rock Headquarters and woke up to head over to the show. The plan was for me to help with the competition by announcing and teaching a couple clinics.
The clinics turned out great! There were so many people. We did some flatwater cartwheels, edge control exercises and more. Each person in the clinics was incredibly nice and eager to learn! I met so many new incredible people. Big thanks to everyone for being so hospitable. Also got a couple new hats from Sam Jackson and her husband who are great coaches!!
The competition was awesome as the feature was really tricky so people were goofing around and just having a great time! Some people threw some amazing moves given the feature such as big phonic’s and mcnasties.
Afterwards I headed back to Aaron and Rhona’s where we had a quick drink and went out to an awesome meal.
The next day we got up and headed back out to Cardiff where the coaches were planning on arriving that afternoon for our evening session. I arrived early, went back to the B&B and got ready for my first coached session.
The coaches were just planning on watching everyone to get an idea on how each athlete was paddling. Already they had a ton of comments for me and I was so excited to implement their notes into my next session. Over the next week I found my strength improving, my edge control, my body position, pre turning, you name it!
The US Team then left for London to do a week training camp there. I opted to stay in Cardiff as I felt my time would be better spent there. Canadian Team Member and one of my favorite guys, Ben Hayward was staying in the same B&B as me so I took advantage of his super helpful coaching during that time. He also happens to be a cook so I would make breakfast and he would always make an amazing dinner. Also with the training sessions getting smaller due to countries arriving we ended up with extra time on our hands, we went castle hunting, saw stone henge, HUGE cathedrals, roman amphitheaters, roman baths, viking ships, you name it!
My paddling changed dramatically that week and I started noticing moves getting easier and easier.
That weekend I actually ended up heading back to the Nene whitewater course once more. This time for the Youth Freestyle Series event which BLEW ME AWAY!
57 competitors and a ton more people showed up. The amount of kids so excited about freestyle kayaking really reminded me of how lucky I am to be involved in such a cool sport with amazing people.
There were so many up and comers and so many kids that are going to be well known in the years to come!
I was dubbed Team Fruit Shoot by my new English buddies for participating in a swimming game that consisted of throwing balls from the water into a kayak. I had fun drawing facial hair on my young group with a permanent marker, perfect for school the next day!
Here is a sick edit from the day:
Once again I came to my home away from home back in Cardiff, this time I started feeling the race date creeping up. The exciting part about that feeling was that I wasn’t even remotely nervous. My goal was to paddle better than I did at my last race. And to remember to have as much fun as possible on race day!
Look for my fourth and final update to see how I ended up and how the three World Cups shaped up for me!
Thanks to everyone for all the support as I continue to broaden my kayaking spectrum and take a walk on the wild side!
Happy Paddling as always!