As first meet ups go this one was pretty special. Seven of the British Canoeing Women's Paddling Ambassadors met for the first time at the Canoe Slalom World Cup this weekend and proved just what great paddling representatives they are.
All ten of the Women's Paddling Ambassadors were chosen, not just for their passion for paddlesport but also for having a great story to tell about why they paddle. Getting them together at the World Cup was a great opportunity for them to swap those stories with each other and get kitted out in their ambassador clothing from Palm Equipment.
All the ambassadors have a spark about them which we know will inspire others to paddle. Coming from a variety of paddling backgrounds means that, as a group, the ambassadors have a vast knowledge of the joys and challenges that paddlesport can bring.– Cadi Lambert - Go Paddling Engagement Officer
Having watched some of the racing action the plan was for everyone to get on the water for a gentle paddle. But the sit on tops and SUP's on offer weren't quite enough for our ambassadors. So they proved just what a great bunch they are by going rafting instead!
Not only was the rafting great fun but it also served an important function. A couple of the ambassadors admitted to having been afraid of white water and that holding them back with their paddling. This experience allowed them to overcome their fears without even noticing they were doing it.
The biggest barrier to me doing more white water is my panicking about swimming in moving water after a bad incident when I was at uni. When we were asked to do the swim test for rafting I knew I had to go for it. The cold water was a shock at first but once I caught my breathe I was fine. I knew I was just going to end up in a big pool at the bottom and that I can swim, so it wasn’t an issue getting to the side. I’d been dreading it. But you know what? That swim made me feel great! I was absolutely ready to get in the raft and give it my all after that. It meant that when, on our last run, our guides kindly flipped us all out, I wasn’t worried. I just pushed the boat away, came to the surface and swam for the eddy.– Emma Kitchen - Women's Paddling Ambassador
Once dried off it was time to watch a bit more of the slalom and extreme slalom excitement. On the way to the course they bumped into Etienne Stott - a chance to chat and view his Olympic Gold Medal. This encounter highlighted just how diverse our ambassadors are. Lizzie Neave greeted Etienne as an old Olympic teammate and our youngest ambassador, Ruby Isserlis spoke of how he helped her overcome her own white water fears.
I had a horrible experience where I came out of my slalom boat and dragged my face along the concrete floor of a course. As I came up all I saw was my big brother leaping into the water, past the safety guys, to pull me out. He got in big trouble but I was so proud of him saving me! It took a lot of guts to enter the next event but I did it and got a medal. Etienne walked down the course cheering me on and signed my boat at the end. I still have that boat and refuse to ever let it go. I wouldn’t have been able to overcome that fear without Etienne. He was a complete inspiration for me.– Ruby Isserlis - Women's Paddling Ambassador