Tag Archives: Megan Middleton.

Megan’s paddling past

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.

Meagn - ready to take on DW 2014

Megan – ready to take on DW 2014

I say, women paddling C1 in the DW, whatever next!

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce the two women athletes who will be paddling The Darkness racing C1 in the 2014 Waterside series and DW; Isobel Smith and Megan Middleton.

Isobel Smith is a 19 year old canoeist who paddles for Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club (BCCC). She is currently ranked in marathon division 4.

I had often seen Isobel and her sister Naomi on the water in a K2 during the Waterside race series as they came zooming past with their distinctive hair colour, in perfect synchronisation and almost telepathic communication. They have a seeming effortless paddling style and if ever a coach needed to show students an example of perfect double kayaking, this would be it.

Isobel and Naomi Smith

Isobel and Naomi Smith

Clearly with talent like that, results inevitably follow and Isobel holds more current Waterside records than any other competitor:

Waterside A
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Middleton – Fowey/BCCC 2:03:37 2013

Waterside B
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Middleton – Fowey/BCCC 2:35:50 2013

Waterside C
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Smith – Basingstoke Canal 3:34:01 2012

Waterside D
• K2 Ladies: Smith & Smith – Basingstoke Canal 5:03:29 2010
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Smith – Basingstoke Canal 5:36:03 2012

Waterside Series
• K2 Ladies: Smith & Smith Basingstoke Canal 13:19:06 2011
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Smith Basingstoke Canal 13:19:06 2011
• K2 Junior Mixed: Middleton & Pearce 14:32:40 Fowey 2009

Isobel has also completed three junior DW events:

• 2009 18:15:05 Isobel Smith & Naomi Smith 3rd BCCC & All Hallows
• 2010 16:28:58 Isobel Smith & Naomi Smith 4th BCCC & All Hallows
• 2013 18:25:23 Isobel Smith & Megan Middleton 6th BCCC & Fowey River

Winning:

2009:
• The Junior Team Trophy
• The BSCA Junior Trophy
• Third position plaque
• Junior Ladies Trophy

2010:
• The Junior Team Trophy
• The BSCA Junior Trophy

2013:
• The Junior Ladies Trophy

As a junior she was not allowed to paddle a single boat and moving directly from a double kayak to a single canoe for DW will present a considerable challenge, the biggest of which will be the duration on the water, for example an additional 1.5 to 2 hours effort on Waterside D alone.

The second team member is Megan Middleton who is a member of Fowey River Canoe Club in Cornwall. Also 19 years old and ranked in marathon division 5.

Megan and Isobel - DW 2013

Megan and Isobel – DW 2013

I didn’t think I’d seen her paddle before but my wife Rowan and I photographed some of the crews exiting the Bruce Tunnel on the first day of the 2013 DW. I said to Rowan “look, there’s Naomi and Isobel Smith” not realising that Megan was cunningly disguised as Naomi! In fact I didn’t even know that they knew each other until I had independently approached them both as potential C1 paddlers. No one ever tells me anything!

Megan is the current holder of the DW record for a mixed junior crew; in 2010 she completed the course with her paddling partner Michael Southey in 16 hours 24 minutes.

She also holds the following Waterside records:

Waterside A
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Middleton – Fowey/BCCC 2:03:37 2013

Waterside B
• K2 Junior Ladies: Smith & Middleton – Fowey/BCCC 2:35:50 2013

Waterside Series
• K2 Junior Mixed: Middleton & Pearce 14:32:40 Fowey 2009

Megan has completed the DW four times as a junior:

• 2009 18:31:30 Megan Middleton & Ryan Pearce 5 Fowey River
• 2010 16:24:08 Megan Middleton & Michael Southey 2 Fowey River
• 2012 18:38:04 Megan Middleton & Dan Palmer 3 Fowey River
• 2013 18:25:23 Megan Middleton & Isobel Smith 6 BCCC & Fowey River

Winning:

2009:
• The Oliver Brown Trophy

2010:
• The Oliver Brown Trophy
• The Trans-Class Team Trophy
• Second position plaque

2012:
• The Oliver Brown Trophy,
• Third position plaque

2013:
• The Junior Ladies Trophy

Megan will also migrate to a single C1 for Waterside and DW 2014 and be in competition with Isobel rather than in the same kayak, what fun!

The next time these two women are in a similar picture frame as below, they will have completed the 2014 DW in a C1.

Megan and Isobel - DW 2013 © Copyright - Olly Harding

Megan and Isobel – DW 2013 © Copyright – Olly Harding