Megan is based in Cornwall and trains mostly on the River Fowey. Her move into the sport of canoe racing started at an early age.
What are you earliest canoeing memories?
Discovering paddle sport when I was 12 years old saved and made my life. Sounds dramatic but it’s true, during a sad period, paddling gave me the most wonderful friends, memories and experiences I could ever imagine. It has given me the opportunity to feel free and totally be myself out on the open water racing against the elements, as well as a tremendous sense of challenge and achievement.
It’s a sport I love and will never be without. After completing DW for the first time in 2008 (the year of the blizzard) I felt invincible and was instantly addicted. After the race my coach and K2 partner Brian Greenaway said “Now’s the time you say never again” a couple of people instantly said “Never again!” but I knew I’d be back and just smiled and kept quiet.
How did you first get into canoeing?
A friend of mine told me she had been to a few sessions at Fowey River Canoe Club, based in Gollant on the River Fowey, south coast of Cornwall. I had never been in a kayak before let alone seen a wobbly racing boat, but I thought it sounded fun so I went to have a go as well.
The friend didn’t keep it up very long but I went back every week for the rest of the summer, soon competing in my first lightening race (for under 12’s) which I won. I loved the buzz of racing and winning the first sporting medal of my life (other than the primary school sports day skipping race!).
I was in awe at the faster paddlers in the club who were at the time starting off in marathon division 9 (now those people are in the top racing divisions 1 & 2). Over the winter I continued to paddle a little so when the next summer arrived I was ready to race in real divisions and start training properly.
How did you progress?
Fowey River CC had connections with a club in Penzance who specialized in canoe polo and surf kayaking both of which I tried and really enjoyed, but nothing compared to the athletic marathon and sprint.
We joined the people from Penzance in the summer of 2007 for what would be my first long distance paddle. Twelve sea kayaks set off from their club at Penzance harbour and we paddled for 2 days and 68 miles around the coast, camping overnight on a hidden beach near the Lizzard, to finish at Fowey River CC in Gollant.
After this trip I decided I would love to paddle the English Channel, however it didn’t happen because one of the coaches told me that we had been put on the waiting list just so I would stop asking (I waited for a year before learning there was no such list).
What’s it like to paddle on the Fowey?
Fowey River Canoe Club is located on probably one of the most beautiful estuaries to have a racing kayak club in the country.
There are so many different sections and places to explore. Head upstream for narrow bends and fast flow at Lostwithiel or under the bridge in the picturesque village of Lerryn. Paddling downstream takes you to many more creeks, Fowey Harbour and the sea.
All these places provide very varied water conditions for training, we often take our K1’s out to sea or into the harbour for some waves! The estuary is tidal so fast flow is always to be contended with and can get very fun/scary with wind against tide and can get busy with motor and sailing boats in the summer.
……..to be continued.