KIM ALDRED: KAYAKING WITHOUT COMPETITION…
Since I was 9 years old competing was at the forefront of my favorite sport. This is not to say I did the competition for the extrinsic value, however I loved and thrived of the potential of bettering myself. Throughout my whole junior career, the world was my oyster and I was able to dedicate my life to freestyle kayaking. I was lucky enough to have parents who drove, and funded, every venture I decided to take. I had a school that gave me all the time I needed, moved my exams and supported my kayaking alongside my studies. And I also had wonderful companies and organizations, like SquareRock, that ensured I had the equipment, facilities and tools to fulfill my ambitious dreams. Now this isn’t a post to dwell, but rather talk you through how I came to terms changing my approach in kayaking.
As I explained, competition was all I have ever known in kayaking, and it was my enjoyment and passion for the sport that accelerated this element. When starting university three years ago to be a PE teacher I knew I would have to compromise something. Luckily in my first two years I was able to carry on competing, dedicating the time to training and enjoying the sport. However when entering third year I knew I was no longer going to have the time for studies and competing. I knew I’d always carry on kayaking, I couldn’t imagine not, however the competition side of the sport was something I’d agreed to drop until I had adequate time. Everybody kayaks for different reasons, but for myself I did struggle and worry initially when I realized stopping competing was the compromise in order to focus on my studies. To begin with I was worried I’d lose interest in some ways through not having something to work towards. I was worried I’d lose some of my sponsors or contact with some of my friends. And finally I was gutted that I was going to be losing time on the water doing the thing I love.
Although these were my worries, I realize none of which are true, and that is down to the reason I have always kayaked. Kayaking for me has always been a family passion, something we all enjoy whilst spending time together. I still get to do that now, and I have the added bonus of watching my little sister Charlee go through everything I did as a junior. I still thrive of bettering my own skills, whether that be improving/defining a move or supporting others to develop. I still get to spend time with my wonderful friends and family and although I don’t get on the water as much, I appreciate the time I do get even more. Although difficult to come to terms with initially, I’ve realized I will always love to kayak no matter what the reason behind why I am participating!
In light of this, I thought I would take a look back at some of my favorite memories of competing over the past 12 years (see pictures below). The plan now is to spend the summer spreading my love of kayaking with others on a summer camp, and then finish my final year at university. After that I’m excited to start training again, and hopefully accomplish some of my senior ladies goals! Until then I’m looking forward to watching my mini me’s progress and seeing Charlee develop on the competition front.
Thanks to Squarerock, Sweetwater Coaching (Dennis Newton) and Overboard who continually support me in any venture.
Hopefully see you on the water soon!