Hi all! I am midway through a training camp at the 2014 World Championship venue at Deep Creek, Maryland. I spent the first two weeks with the Australian team, but now they have gone in different directions. I will spend the next week sharing a house with some lovely kiwis and training in whitewater sessions alongside the Czech team.
Photo: Eimear Cradock
The whitewater course is on top of a small ski mountain, so the weather here is a little unpredictable. So far we have had two tornado warnings, but apparently tornadoes don’t usually travel uphill, so we just got storms hitting instead.
Photo: Eimear Cradock
Training consists mostly of two whitewater sessions per day, with some gym and jogging around the mountain. The aim is to get to know the water as well as possible and prepare physically before the worlds in September. In between training, we also have to fit in video review of our sessions, recovery exercises, stretching and physiotherapy treatments. Everything counts toward getting the most out of my sessions, including the right nutrition and getting plenty of sleep. All this doesn’t leave much time for exploring the US, even shopping can be exhausting.
Photo: Eimear Cradock
In between sessions a good way to keep moving towards my goals while still getting the rest I need is to read up in every field I can think of that can boost my performance. Here is my reading list for the moment:-
In the Flow: - Jonathan Males
A new release on performance psychology specifically for canoe/kayak, this book uses examples from current paddlesport champions and shows you how to apply them to many different disciplines. Jonathan has a vast amount of experience as a paddler, coach & psychologist, which he shares in this book. You will read about achieving self-confidence, competition, whitewater paddling, women in paddling, paddling with young people, canoeing over a lifespan and canoeing in the wilderness.
Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice – Matthew Syed
My friend Heather recommended this to me. Do you feel like Olympians and experts are superhumans who were born with their talent? They are not, they have simply spent more time purposefully practicing.
Serve to win: Novak Djokovitch
My coach was so excited by Novak’s dedication and the improvement in his performance brought on by a simple change of diet, that I just had to read the book. I don’t think I’m about to jump on the gluten free bandwagon but there is some interesting information in here about food sensitivities and eating not just for elite performance, but also for clarity and energy in everyday life.
Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential – Carol Dweck
My sister Jacqui sent me this book in the mail as a surprise. It’s all about learning and understanding that the way you think about your practice will have a huge impact on what you get out of it. A learning mindset can help you achieve excellence in all areas of your life. This book takes a fresh look at focusing on the process instead of the result, and sets it out in an easy-to-read format.
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About it – Gary Taubes
I’m not worried about getting fat, but I am interested in how our cultural perceptions of nutrition could be misleading us, and why it’s not just as simple as ‘calories in, calories out’. There’s plenty of information in here that nobody has ever told you about what you are eating.
In Pursuit of Excellence – Terry Orlick
My friend Danka, a member of the US slalom team, gave me a lift to dinner one night and I found this book in the back of her car. I asked to borrow it and after reading a couple of pages decided to download my own copy. This book takes an in-depth look at the theories and strategies necessary for achieving excellence in sport and life.
Block Periodization: Breakthrough in Sport Training – Vladimir Issurin
If you want to approach your training in a methodical manner, then this book is for you. It explains the theory behind block periodization and compares it to traditional theories. You can read about how to plan your training sessions, your weeks, months and years to optimize peak performance. I found the section on the compatibility of training types most useful, and the information on recovery times is also interesting. Did you know that maximum strength training performed within 24 hours of aerobic training disrupts the physiological gains from your aerobic session? Vladimir Issurin will explain.
For the last week I have been training at my home-base in Augsburg. The water runs through the slalom course all day and there are people from all over the world training here.
The legendary main channel is called the ‘Eiskanal’ and like other courses many of the distinctive features have names, such as the ‘Zoom Floom,’ the ‘Washing Machine’ & ‘Moby Dick.’
There are three different channels with varying levels of water, for beginner or advanced paddlers. The easier channels are great for fine tuning technique and hours of fitness sessions know to paddlers as ‘loops.’ The course is surrounded by grassy, green lawns and lush forest, creating a relaxing training environment.
Paths through the forest and all over Augsburg make it easy to get around by bike, which is cheaper, more enviro friendly and better for fitness than driving.
For a bit of R&R between training sessions I joined the locals for some river surfing and picked lots of fresh juicy strawberries from the fields near town. Yum!
Next stop will be a few days of training in London before I head to the US for some training at the worlds venue.
The first three events of the World Cup series kept me on the road from London, to Ljubljana and Prague. Later in the year there will be two more events, all of which count toward world ranking points and the crowning of world cup champions.
The course in London is the same one used for the London Olympics. The water looks spectacular flowing at 13 cubic metres per second over 5.5 metres of
The slalom course in Ljubljana is only ten minutes drive from the centre of the gorgeous Slovenian capital city. The fearsome first drop is legendary for its height and speed. The crowd really gets into supporting the local paddlers here, using an old air-raid siren and hundreds of wooden clackers to create as much noise as possible.
The big drop – normally the water is a pretty green colour, but it rained the before the race
Apparently it takes me a while to warm into race mode, because it took until the 3rd race for me to produce results worth writing home about – 1st in the women’s C1 category and 2nd in the women’s K1 teams event with teammates Sarah Grant and Jessica Fox. The teams race is when 3 people compete together on the race course at once. The clock starts when the first boat crosses the start line, and stops when the third boat crosses the finish line. Racing like this it can be quite tricky avoiding collisions, and penalties for touching the slalom gates can add up quickly.
Sarah, Jess & I at the end of the teams race
The Czechs put on spectacular events year after year, with great media coverage and crowds. They even organised a warm up ‘paddling biathalon’ during the week. Paddlers had to launch off a start ramp and race through a short flatwater slalom course before shooting targets with a laser gun. Missed targets incurred a penalty 360 degree rotation during the sprint to the finish line. All this took place on the river in the centre of Prague!
The start ramp of the ‘paddling biathlon’
Charles Bridge, Prague
The world cup tour runs as a team for the Australian athletes. We travel in a group of 11 athletes, plus coaches. We train together, travel together and cheer each other down the course. It’s great moral support to be surrounded by such a fun group of people!
I’m now spending a week training in Augsburg, Germany, before heading to the US for training at the World Championships venue.
In April this year, I spent two weeks coaching the International Canoe Federation Talent Identification Project. The group was made up of twenty athletes from thirteen nations, representing countries from Thailand to Senegal, and many in between.
The event was the 2014 Junior and U23 canoe slalom World Championships, held at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium. It was certainly a different experience to be coaching instead of paddling. I stretched my communication skills when coaching a group of three paddlers, who spoke three different languages but not English. Luckily a great deal of canoe slalom can be explained using hand gestures and body movements, and the athletes were very good ‘listeners’.
I was also one of the course designers for the race, along with Sydney 2000 Olympic K1M gold medallist Thomas Schmidt, and I got to paddle on the course during the demonstration runs.
It was a privilege to get to know such a friendly group and to feel like part of a big international family. Most of the paddlers didn’t have a national team to support them at the race, or during their training at home, so in comparison I feel extremely well supported as a member of the Australian team. On the other hand, they showed me a thing or two about determination and creativity!
Jean-Pierre from Senegal was probably not as happy as he looks here, when they told him he’d have to shorten his boat in order to get it on the plane at Paris airport.
The girls freaked out just a little bit when we pointed out the orb spider chilling in its web 2 metres above them
Last weekend’s Oceania champs were the second and final stage of the National Team selection.
A win in the C1 (hooray!) and a 2nd in the K1 in the earlier stages of racing was enough to see me qualify for the team in both classes. This means I get to travel to Europe and the USA to compete in the five-part World Cup series and the World Championships.
I love my life!
I will most likely leave in the middle of May, this year. The first venue I will visit is near Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where I will race in an ICF world ranking event as a ‘warm up’ race. From there I will move on to London, to await the arrival of the rest of the team.
This will be the location for the 1st World Cup race, which will be held on the 2012 Olympic course. Then it will be back to Slovenia for World Cup number 2, followed by Prague in the Czech Republic for World Cup number 3, held at the same place as last year’s World Championships.
Each World Cup will be held over 3 days, 1 week apart, so it will be a hectic schedule including travel, training and racing at each location.
After a short break from the team (but not from training) it will be off to the US for a training camp at the Worlds venue, inDeep Creek, Maryland. Unlike most of the World Cup race sites, the course at Deep Creek is not a regular international race venue. I have never paddled there before so it is important that I spend some time getting to know the course.
After three weeks in the US, the team will head to La Seu d’Urgell, in Spain for the 4th World Cup. This small town hosted the canoe slalom at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Next stop will be Augsburg, Germany, for the World Cup final – yet another Olympic venue, this course was home to the 1972 Munich Olympic canoe slalom event.
Backtracking back to the US for the lead up to the World Championships, I should have enough race practice under my belt for a great Worlds campaign! The race will take place more than four months after I leave Australia. By this time I will have paddled in 7 different countries (not to mention all the in-betweens) and taken about 12 different flights.
The best part will be enjoying the different waterscapes across Europe and the US. I have yet to decide how to end my tour. Will I head back to Europe to compete at the Sickline Extreme Kayaking World Champs?
Will I stay a little longer in the US and paddle some of the myriad legendary rivers across the continent?
(From left to right: Katelyn Whitney, Emma Williams, Chloe Byrnes, Ros Lawrence, Kasandra Whitney)
This photo shows daggy 17 year old me hanging out with my girlfriends from school. We weren’t very grown up and we weren’t very trendy, but we were having a fantastic week paddling at the Nymboida Canoe Centre on Goolang Creek. Pretty much all of our school holidays were spent here, and many weekends in between. We would train K1, C1, women’s C2, mixed C2, in both slalom and downriver. After exhausting ourselves in the morning, we would have a quick lunch before floating down the creek on inflatable tyre tubes, swimming and boogie board surfing and training another one or two times in the afternoon.
I did my first ‘live’ roll on Goolang Creek, paddled my first slalom race and my first downriver race… once I fell out mid race and my dad had to rescue me piggy-back style because I was too small to swim across the current.
Goolang is the best place to enjoy the outdoors, make new friends, camp, explore, learn to paddle, hone your technique, race, sit around the campfire telling stories and toasting marshmallows… the list goes on. Some of my earliest memories and many of my best are of Goolang. I’ve paddled in so many countries across the globe that I’ve lost count, and Goolang is still one my of my most favourite places.
Sadly, the hydro electric power station that draws the water out of the river and into Goolang Creek is no longer functioning. There has been some trouble with the turbines and some of the pipes have burst, damaging the creek below. Because the power station is over 90 years old, Essential Energy can’t get environmental credits for power generated there, making it less economically viable for them to fix it. Instead, it will no longer run, and that means an end to all the fun.
Dozens of Australian national whitewater team members have learned to paddle and race at Nymboida Canoe Centre. It provides a valuable tourist attraction and recreational facility to people from all over NSW and Australia. Downstream from the centre the creek provides irrigation water for farmers, and has developed it’s own beautiful ecosystem - I have seen platypus swimming there on numerous occasions.
Please, take the time to sign the petition to have the power station reopened, so that Goolang Creek won’t be lost to us forever.
If you live in NSW sign here.
If you live elsewhere sign here.
Read the press release from my new sponsor - Sydney Harbour Kayaks - below, or click here to see their website.
World Champion paddler Ros Lawrence teams up with Sydney Harbour Kayaks
World Champion kayaker, Rosalyn Lawrence, has taken on a key role as ambassador for Sydney Harbour Kayaks. Customers will have the opportunity to attend free lessons under Ros’ expert instruction.
The Sydney Harbour Kayaks ambassador program is about working with individuals who embody the Sydney Harbour Kayaks lifestyle and live the culture. Ros has been paddling since she was two years old and at 24, has won an impressive 3 World Championships and is working towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.
This will be a very hands-on partnership with Ros instructing on the water as part of the Sydney Harbour Kayaks free learn to kayak program.
As an Australian company, Sydney Harbour Kayaks recognizes the importance of supporting local heroes. Sydney Harbour Kayaks will continue to actively support Ros on her path to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
On becoming Sydney Harbour Kayak’s ambassador, Ros said: “I’m a big fan of Sydney Harbour Kayaks and can’t wait to join them. I love helping people learn how to enjoy the water safely and I look forward to sharing some of the technical tips I have learned through my own world class training. My ultimate goal is to represent Australia at the Olympics and support from SHK will make a big difference to me as I train toward Rio Olympic selection.”
A family business, based on the Spit since 1991, Sydney Harbour Kayaks is delighted to have Ros Lawrence on board. Shannon O’Brien, Managing Director, said, “We have asked Ros to be an ambassador as she is an energetic, young Australian kayaker who embodies the Sydney Harbour Kayaks lifestyle and lives the paddling culture. Working with Ros is about getting people out onto the water and being inspired by the stars of the kayak world. We’re excited to be extending our free lesson program and giving our customers the opportunity to learn from the best.”
Sydney Harbour Kayaks caters to all levels, including lessons and tours, and offers free ‘learn to kayak’ lessons for first timers. Paddlers can also rent kayaks to explore Middle Harbour, or join an experienced guide on a tour to see hidden corners of Sydney’s secret waterways.
photo by Sportscene
Last weekend I raced at the Australian Open and Australian National Championships, which also doubled as the first senior selection race.
I came away with 2nd in the C1 at nationals and the Aus Open and 3rd in K1 at the Aus Open. These results look okay on paper, but I wasn’t very happy with the way I paddled. Luckily there is time to improve my approach before the next selection race, the Oceania championships on the 21-23 February.
It was great to see so many kiwis racing here; 38 of them made the trip across the ditch because the race was also a selection event for them.
I loved having my family and friends at the race to cheer me on!
Photo: Manuel Arnu
The Sickline event takes place in a gorgeous Austrian mountain town called Oetz. There are all sorts of adventures to be had, including via ferratas, bike riding, and swimming in the picturesque Pieburger See (lake.) Just a couple of minutes walk upstream from the town are the infamous Wellerbrücke rapids, where the race is held.
After arriving on Sunday in time for a couple of practice runs, on Saturday morning we rolled out of bed, straight into our kayaking gear and up to the course. We looked pretty funny walking in our bulky paddling gear down the streets of Oetz! I started by trying to get used to the bottom section, or the qualification course. The first two features on the quals course, the ‘Champions Killer’ and ‘Minus One’, are also the last two features on the finals course. I felt like every run I did I found out something new about the course, and step by step I became more confident. After the first day of training my focus switched to the finals course, with it’s many features and lines to remember.
At the beginning of each race day there was a compulsory practice run. Before the qualification my practice run was ok; it wasn’t perfect but I new if I could race like that it would be enough to qualify. My first race run was even better. I completed the course with the fastest women’s time for the day, and beat a lot of the guys as well. I was confident that I would qualify with ease. My second qualification run wasn’t as good, but I made it through in 4th.
On finals day I had an awesome practice run, it was of those times when everything seems to flow nicely and this made me feel confident at the start of my first final run. Little did I know that being slightly offline down the start ramp would set me up for a whole run of disaster, the worst part being a long surf in the Minus One feature, my nemesis for the race. I was desperately hanging on to my paddle, because I knew that if I lost it I probably wouldn’t be able to hand roll up again, and would have to swim out of the boat. After spending so long getting trashed on the course, I was freezing and exhausted for my 2nd run. It was marginally better, but still a very slow run compared to my expectations of myself and compared to my race runs last year on the same course. I finished in 4th, which was not what I was hoping for, but I learned some valuable lessons! First and foremost I learned that although in slalom it usually helps to feel confident before a race, it pays to show the Wellerbrücke a little more respect and be nervous before racing!
I was very happy to race again at Sickline and to have the chance to try and defend my title from last year. Nouria Newman paddled really well on the course and showed that girls can conquer such difficult rapids, she won with two great runs. Congratulations to Nouria, and also to Toni George (NZL) who was 2nd and Martina Wegman (NDL) in 3rd.
A big thank you to you all, my Sportaroo supporters! Without you I couldn’t have made it through the long international season, and I wouldn’t have made it to Sickline.
Thanks also to the sponsors of my Sportaroo campaign -
Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay – the staff there are great, one of my best school buddies Emma works there. Every day she posts pictures all over Facebook of the whales she has paddled past while at work, I can promise you sightings are regular. No wonder she loves her job!
Clarence River Canoes – I learned to paddle on the Clarence River, it is a beautiful part of Australia, and the Ross family who own the business and the Lawrence family go way back. Paddling has helped me meet some of the nicest people I know - Shantala and her family will guide you safely down the river, feed you, and have you to stay in their beautiful eco-huts.
Bausele – Christo from Bausele is a really positive and creative guy. He has designed some beautiful watches, each of which contains a little bit of Australia in the crown, in the form for red earth, white sand or black coal. If you purchase a watch online using the code BAULROS10 you will receive a 10% discount and 15% of the sale will go towards supporting me.
Sportscene – Rob from Sportcene is a mover and shaker in the paddling world. He started up his website from scratch and now brings news about all paddling disciplines across the globe together in one place. The videos of me from Sickline were put together by Rob, it was great to have him there and covering the event.
The New Agency – These guys equaled the amount of money any of their staff or customers contributed to my campaign, which ended up being a generous contribution. Do you run your own business? The New Agency provides software development, design, marketing, advertising, social media, media production, as well as investor, analyst and media relations.
Today I am flying back to Australia to get ready for a summer of training and Australian races. (Actually I’m am posting this from the airport in Bangkok.) First up will be the NSW state championships on the 19th/20th October.
See you soon Australia!
It’s the final countdown! I arrived in Oetz, Austria a while ago to prepare for Sickline. The mountains are spectacular, the paddlers are chirpy, and the water is pumping. The rumour is that ten people have swum on the course in the last couple of days - you never know what training on the Wellerbrücke will bring! Monday until Thursday will be spent trying to get comfortable with the lines on sections of the course. Qualifications will take place on Friday, on the lower section and the finals will be on Saturday, on the upper section.
There are people from all over the world getting ready to race here. These are just a few of the incredible women I will be up against:
Jenny Chrimes (GBR) – 2nd place at Sickline last year
Nouria Newman – winner of last year’s Whitewater Grand Prix and silver medalist in the K1 event at the recent slalom World Championships
Adriene Levknecht – Bronze medal at the recent freestyle World Championships
Nina Csonkova – Adidas team member and Sickline veteran from the last 5 years
The World Championships in Prague have just wrapped up. The Australian team stayed at the venue in Troja and we woke up the day after it all ended to find the big screen, the fences and all the signage had already been taken down. I dropped my teammates off at the airport and caught a train back to my European home-base in Augsburg, Germany.
Now is the time to reflect on the season past, decide which challenges need to be dealt with more effectively next time and set goals and plan for the next season. At the same time as I am going through this process for slalom, I will be switching to extreme kayaking mode and preparing for the Sickline race in Austria, which will take place on the 3-5 October.
As usual the season has had its ups and downs. Making it into the K1 final at worlds has made it all seem worthwhile. To know that I can make it into the top ten in the world nearly* three times in a row has given me a massive confidence boost (*at the second last World Cup I was .01 seconds off the final.) I finished up 7th in K1, 5th in C1, 4th with Sarah Grant & Jess Fox in K1 teams and 1st with Ali Borrows and Jess in C1 teams.
I was aiming for the podium in C1, but fell short of the mark – the same can be said for my entire season in this class. After finishing the season last year I decided to shift the emphasis in my training from C1, where it had been for the previous 4 years, to K1, despite the fact that I enjoy C1 far more. This shift has been reflected in notable improvement in my K1 results during both the domestic and international seasons. I had hoped that my C1 results wouldn’t suffer so dramatically. The main reason for my shift towards K1 is I realised that if I wanted to keep paddling for another 4 years until the Rio 2016 Olympics I needed more money. For women it is only possible to reach the highest tier of funding in K1, because C1 is only an Olympic event for men. The decision to do more K1 could only pay off at the end of the season, so my Sportaroo campaign supporters, my sponsors and my family and friends have made all the difference this year.
Now I am preparing for the Sickline extreme kayaking world championships. Last year I won the women’s class and I will do my best to survive the rapids with a little style again this year. You’ll hear from me in Oetz.
I consider myself very lucky to have a coach provided by the Australian Sports Commission & Australian Canoeing, who also cover many of my tour costs, create a professional team environment and provide many essential services. So special thanks to the ASC, AC, the NSWIS, the AIS, the NCE, YOU – my family and friends and Sportaroo supporters, Bausele, Sportscene, Clarence River Canoes, Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay, Liquid Life and MS Composite.