Hi! My name is Del and I am a female white water kayaker from the UK. I have been meaning to start writing a blog for a while but have never seemed to have the time to do it. Well, like the rest of the world, I have the time to do it now!
For this first piece, I am going to keep it short and just tell you all a little bit about me and my background in kayaking. Despite kayaking being my whole world now, I started paddling as an adult and not as a child. My childhood sport was surprisingly gymnastics of which I did for 10 years and then spent 8 years as a gymnastics coach. I say ‘surprisingly’, as anyone who knows me will know that I am quite a clumsy person, or a ‘land-beater’ as some might say.
I first tried white water kayaking in New Zealand. At 20, I was lucky enough to take a year out during my degree and went to live in New Zealand for that time. Wanting to make the most of my time there, I decided to take every opportunity and try as many new things as I could. Whilst I enjoyed all the other activities I took up in that time, it was kayaking that kept my interest when I moved back to the UK. In my final days there, I promised my kiwi friends that I would come back to New Zealand once I had become a ‘grade 5 paddler’. I had no idea what that actually meant but it seemed to make my friends laugh!
I moved back to Nottingham for my final year of my degree and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had chosen to study at one of the best kayaking Universities in the UK. The reason why is because Nottingham is home to Holme Pierrepont (HPP), the UKs national white water centre. Here is a man-made white water course of which kayakers and other white water enthusiasts can practice their skills. Unknowingly I had chosen to live in the perfect spot for getting into kayaking.
I bought a membership for HPP and threw myself into getting better. To summarise, I was not a quick learner! I swam repeatedly every single session and was incredibly grateful to my friends who kept taking me along and fishing me out. After each session I would keep a log and gradually I start to see the improvements. By the end of the academic year I was going to HPP 2-3 times a week and was confident paddling and playing in features by myself.
5 years since I started kayaking in New Zealand, kayaking has taken over my life. After University, I started working as a teacher and became a ‘weekend warrior’. Every weekend possible, I am out on the water. I enjoy high water days where we are chasing the rain and I feel challenged. Equally I adore relaxed low water days when you can mess around in boats with friends. The moments of sheer joy I experience whilst in a boat give me so much balance to my life, there is nothing that could replace it. ‘Enthusiastic’ is a word you will often hear my friends use to describe me and that is fine by me!
If you have read this far, thank you for taking the time to do so. Hopefully that gives you a little glimpse into my background in kayaking. Watch out for more posts!
Cover photo: Tom Clare