Sticks and Water – an Introduction to Canoe Slalom

June 23, 2016 Off By Bethany Carol

I am the eldest daughter of ProAdventure patrons Lesley and Peter, and I have just succeeded in gaining promotion to the Premier Division of canoe slalom in Britain.

Canoe slalom is one of two Olympic disciplines of canoeing, the other being sprint canoe (yawn). It is essentially a time trial, and the winner is the person who gets down the course in the least time, with the least penalty seconds added.

Racing on the mighty Tryweryn

Racing on the mighty Tryweryn

The head of canoe slalom in Wales once described it thus:


“Slalom is like doing the 800 metres, during an earthquake, walking on your hands and trying not to hit anything or fall over.”

I genuinely think this is quite an appropriate explanation. It’s a sport I love, and it’s incredible fun, but it’s bloody hard to race! It is unlike any other sport, in that it combines power and strength with technical ability and a whole load of fun.

Three years ago, I began my pursuit of canoe slalom awesomeness, with the aim of working hard, travelling, having fun and rendering my parents penniless in the process. since then, I have worked my way through 5 divisions, got into the Welsh Team, spent countless hours on the canal, in the dark, complaining, improved my kayaking skills immensely and met many incredible people who will stay with me for life.

Team Wales at Lee Valley in North London

Team Wales at Lee Valley in North London

My typical week of training is pretty intense at the moment. I do 3-4 physical sessions on the canal, anything from speed to endurance base, 2 sessions on the river Dee, with our 4 gates and a play wave, and I usually spend the weekends either on the Tryweryn, or at a training camp or race somewhere else in the UK, from London to Grantully in Scotland via Nottingham, with occaisional trips to Cardiff and the metropolis that is Llandysul. The paddling is accompanied with 3 trips to the gym and many early mornings doing situps in the living room whilst watching cartoons ( my favourite is Danger Mouse), plus running or swimming.

I’ll be keeping you up to date with with what’s going on in the world of Canoe Slalom over the Summer, with posts from Germany, France, Scotland, England and Wales.