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From football to kayaking - My experience so far........
by Malcolm Scott - 20:27 on 28 January 2010
After missing the last 8 football matches of 2009 due to injury, I decided it was time for something different. In the back of my mind Kayaking was always something I had fancied trying, after getting a taste of it many years ago on a school trip to France when we canoed (in an open canoe) down the river Ardeche.
At the County Show I saw a stand for Kirkwall Kayak Club so I enquired how to go about getting involved. I was told to come along to the pool sessions when they start in November and I would be made very welcome. As we all know the County Show is held in August and for an impatient footballer November seemed a while away!!!!!.
At last the first Tuesday night session came around, there were a few other first timers there too so I didn’t feel like I was the only person not knowing what to expect. Before we were even given a paddle to use, all the newcomers were instructed on how to safely exit an upturned Kayak (after deliberately capsizing it), firstly with no spray deck and then with it, just in case you accidentally capsized in the pool you would know how to escape. At all times an experienced coach was on hand to help.
The next few Tuesdays were spent learning to manoeuvre the Kayak, forward paddling, backwards paddling and then how to stop suddenly by reversing the paddles direction, sweep stroke and reverse sweep to change direction, moving sideways using a draw stroke and sculling draw, then low brace and high brace.
Let’s face it though, the first thing anybody wants to do from the moment they sit in a Kayak is learn to ROLL!!! And I was no different!!! Watching how the coaches made it look so easy and elegant, I was keen to have a shot.
I asked Kye if he would teach me, so we headed for the side of the pool to start with the basics of the HIP FLICK. Holding on to the side of the pool tipping the kayak over till my head was in the water and flicking my right knee over my left, inside the Kayak, while trying to remember to bring my head out of the water LAST. Then out into the middle of the pool, Kye held the paddle horizontal and I did the same exercise (pretending the paddle was the pool side). Next I used a paddle float (in my hands) with Kye’s assistance then without.
One thing I have learnt about rolling is never to be worried about going back a step to learn it again, before trying the next step. Also rolling is all about good technique and not strength.
The next Tuesday we went through all of the above again to refresh my memory, then we put the paddle float over the paddle blade and Kye showed me how to hold the paddle and what movement was needed to perform the Pawlata roll. After a few attempts I managed to roll myself. Now all I needed was to do it without the float, easier said than done. After quite a few failed attempts I finally got it, my first Kayak Roll. Now I just kept on practicing to make sure I could get rolled up every time.
After another week practising the Pawlata, I felt I had enough confidence that I could get rolled up every time using it, so I decided to try and learn the Screw Roll (holding the paddle with the normal paddle grip).
I had a lot of failed attempts at this, but I always knew if I failed I could change my grip (underwater) to a Pawlata and get rolled up. Then I realised that I was not getting my body close enough to the surface off the water before I started my Roll. When I changed my body position nearer to the surface I managed to roll up. I am still practising this every week at the moment to try and get better at it.
I can manage both the Pawlata and Screw rolls now but I’m not very good on my left side so I will be practicing that a lot over the remaining pool sessions. I have also been using a diving mask when rolling so I can see that the paddle blade is in the correct starting position. I am beginning to get the feel of it now and shut my eyes every time when rolling, just using the mask as a back up.
I have been to a few weeks of KKC canoe polo, its great fun, fast and furious! Just the competitive edge I miss from not playing football anymore, however a few times I’ve been knocked over and my paddle’s been knocked out of my hands!!! Very frustrating having to bail out mid match, and watch your team play on without you, while you are on the side of the pool emptying your Kayak!! I asked Kristian if he would teach me how to hand roll as you definitely need it if you want to play polo.
At the side of the pool Kristian explained how the HAND ROLL should be done. Slap the surface of the water with one hand, use a more aggressive HIP FLICK and make sure your head comes up LAST were the main points. So I gave it a try. To my amazement and I think Kristian’s disbelief I rolled up on the first attempt! I tried another few times and rolled up then a couple failed, before I got up again. This will need a lot more practise as it’s not elegant by any means (lots of splashing) but I got up and that’s a start. It’s one thing capsizing and rolling up when you’re in control. I’m not sure if I’d manage it in the heat of a polo match yet but I’ll be putting in the practise to try to get better at it.
Kirkwall Kayak Club pool sessions are really good fun with a friendly atmosphere and good coaches. It’s been 3 months now since I started Kayaking and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I have learnt a lot in a short space of time but there is so much more to learn. I’m sure everything I do learn in the pool, will stand me in good stead for when we eventually go sea kayaking in various weather conditions.
And I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!
Comment from Kristian at 23:07 on 28 January 2010.Great wee Blog Malcolm. Glad we are of good use!
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