A Week of Sport Discovery: Kayaking

Sport Calgary is doing a blog series on the different Sport Calgary member organizations. This blog introduces Calgarians to sports offered in the city they can try. Ryley is an intern at Sport Calgary for the four months between the third and fourth years of her degree. She is pursuing a bachelor of communication, majoring in PR and minoring in marketing and has a passion for sport. Ryley loves trying new activities and finding different ways to get moving and staying active for life. Her main activities are hiking, skiing, yoga, running and surfing, all of which either her mom, boyfriend or dog loves to join her in doing!

I had the opportunity to try river kayaking with Emil from Waterwerks Kayaking on Monday. The last time I was in a kayak was when I was 10 years old and my grandpa took me in the ocean. I remember it being fun – although it was tricky to get in and out – and not much else. Emil showed me the basics of getting in and out of my kayak on dry land, outlined the safety procedures of a water exit (which I was really hoping I would not have to utilize), and then we were off!

After a less than graceful entry into the water, I quickly learned the basics of how to hold my paddle and what kind of strokes were going to keep me on course in the river’s current.

So apparently this was news to me… but paddling up stream is HARD. Every time Emil looked back at me I would hide the look of pure struggle on my face and replace it with a smile that said, “Yeah, I know my arms look like noodles, but I’m stronger than I look and this is a piece of cake!”

While we were on the river I learned how to turn in and out of eddies, how to navigate the current and how to do smaller adjustment turns, all while staying right-side-up. We finished off by steering through gates like they do in Olympic competition, except I had an unfortunate bad habit of smashing through the post of the gate.  I had a great upper body workout, spent time outside and learned an awesome new sport. All in 90 minutes!

Emil was awesome. He was so encouraging and reassured me at the end of our session that I did a good job and was a quick learner (go me!). My experience with Waterwerks Kayaking was so much fun and so positive. It is a great program for every level of amateur athlete. Waterwerks has everything from kids camps to lessons to roll clinics, and the cool part is that everyone moves at their own pace! Emil said that the instructors would never take a student on a harder course than they are ready for and that classes can be mixed around so everyone is where they need to be. 

All instructors are certified for the level they instruct and have both first aid training and water rescue training. They give a thorough safety orientation before you get in the water and supply lifejackets, helmets, and all other equipment needed for the difficulty of the session. 

Emil says that the club has difficulty gaining participants because Waterwerks is a non-profit club and doesn’t have money for marketing, so people don’t know it exists. I would highly recommend this sport for any age and any skill level because of how diverse kayaking is. You choose how hard you work and your risk level for injury. The natural progression of lessons is from pool to river to rapids, but only if you want to push yourself.

This would be a great sport to get involved in as a family. Family drop-ins for open water time are only $35 for the night and all the equipment is provided. It’s a great sport to be competitive or recreational in because you can improve fitness without injury and wear on joints, and you can continue kayaking to become active for life.

Something that Emil loves about kayaking is the community. He says that even though you compete individually, you are still on a team that you train with and the sense of community is very strong.

When I asked Emil why people should try kayaking, I had barely gotten the question out when he said, “Because it’s the best sport ever!” It is this enthusiasm and love for the sport that Waterwerks wants to share with Calgary. Visit https://waterwerks.ca/ to learn more about how you can start kayaking!


Becoming a Sport Calgary Member:
Sport Calgary members have access to our resources at Sport Calgary such as marketing on social media, blog entries, features and placement on our calendar. Many other benefits will be available with the re-launch of our website in 2018. Becoming a member is easy and FREE! Go to www.sportcalgary.ca, and under the “Join Us” tab click on the link that corresponds with you or your group. Fill out the form and you will be added to our membership. Sport organizations and individuals can join. 

Evans Hunt