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Athlete Blog: Maddy Jennings - My Summer Slaloming Around Europe

Athletes Profile:
Name: Maddy Jennings
Trip: SCA Slalom Summer Camp
Trip dates: 23/07/18 - 10/08/18
Locationd: Prague/Bratislava/Vienna/Augsburg
SCA Squad: Slalom
Discipline: K1W

This years SCA summer camp saw the slalom squad touring around Europe, training in four countries and competing in two of them. With half the team already in Prague, this was stop number one. It was the first time in a while that we had all been together so we had a lengthy general knowledge quiz in our air B&B as an icebreaker. Duncan was the defending general knowledge champion, but after a competitive three horse race I was crowned the new champion. Better luck next time! We had two days of training on the whitewater where the focus was on adjusting to being back on big water, something we like to call 'structured play', then it was time to journey on to our next location, Bratislava. 

Bratislava is one of the biggest artificial courses in the world and is probably my favourite playground. It was the first time paddling here for some of our junior athletes and watching them experience the infamous 'pinball' and 'Niagara fall' was entertaining to say the least!

We had a couple of days to familiarise ourselves with the course before the first of two races in the Danube Cup series. This race was also an international debut for Ailsa, Mairi, Matt, and Vitto who all paddled their best against a tough field filled with big names. I've never taken part in this particular race before and I'm still not over being in the same start pool as some of my idols in the sport. It was hard to focus on my race and not be an embarrassing fangirl. I daresay it was one of my greatest challenges on this camp, alongside learning to dive that is. 

Following the race, we had a rest day were Duncan brought out his absurdly large inflatable flamingo and Stuart half attempted to learn how to backflip into the lake. As it turns out, flamingoes are amazing at surfing stoppers but not so amazing at crossing whirlpools. We trained in Bratislava for the remainder of the week, including a trip to a local gym during a thunderstorm where we met some very friendly locals. We then headed to location number three. However, before we left it was time for another quiz! This time it was in pairs not of our choosing in attempt to reduce the extreme competitiveness... the winners were Duncan and Ailsa.

Location number three was Vienna, where we had one training session before racing the final race of the Danube Cup. This was a new location for us all which was great for keeping our minds and reactions sharp as we figured out the course and made our race plans. I can best describe the course as a bigger and bouncy Pinkston. The training session is up there with my toughest sessions. The air temperature was mid 30's and the water felt near the same which made for insufferable heat! I've never wanted to be back in winter, cracking ice in order to paddle so much in my life. That said, the event was very enjoyable and Mairi and Vitto qualified to race their first international semi-final!

Our fourth and final location was Augsburg, Germany. To our disappointment the course wasn't running which meant replacing our more enjoyable whitewater sessions with sickening lactic sessions and time trials against the flow of the Eiskanal. We hadn't done any proper lactic sessions in a while so as arduous as they were, it was a pleasant shock to feel the pain and discomfort again. After a few days training and ice bathing in the Eiskanal, it was time to begin the two day drive home where we met the Sprint Squad at on the way back from their Summer Camp.

Once again the SCA organised a great summer camp, filled with new places, new experiences and new opportunities. Everyone in the squad has taken something away from this camp, from food budgeting skills to learning how to back flip to improving their paddling on big water. For me, I have greatly improved my understanding and ability to read to the water, enabling me to paddle more efficiently. Thanks to the National Lottery enabling sportscotland’s investment into the SCA Performance Programme.  A special thanks too to Terry Edwards for the delicious home baking!