Slalom Development Squad Training Camp
Sault-Brenaz, Lyon, France
23rd – 27th July 2013
We arrived at the campsite after an impressive bit of sat-nav action, driving from Cairnryan, down through Calais to outside Lyon. We found the only shady spot on the site and went straight in for a paddle down the course before setting up camp. The other two families arrived Sunday evening and Monday, ready for training to start on Tuesday morning. Matt McKnight, our coach for the week arrived sometime in the middle of the night via Bourg where he had left off Eoin Teague, our NI representative on the Junior Irish Team to compete on one of Europe’s biggest courses. (More about that experience to come in the next edition).
We had Kirsten, Beth, Ali and Jake all eager to get on the course. It was decided to split the sessions, with girls and boys respectively (Based on experience not gender!). The Juniors took it in turns each day to be on ‘early shift’ in the mornings, followed by a ‘late shift’ before the course closed in the evenings.
The site is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by mountains, where some of the parents stretched their muscles with some extreme heat cycling. The course is pumped from the Rhone, mostly grade 1-2 with a couple of grade 3 drops for a challenge in the middle.
There was plenty of opportunity to build water confidence as the course was fun to swim down and play in when not training (and there wasn’t much swimming from the paddlers as they trained). The drain out, back into the river provided a great flat water area for rolling practice. Jake and Ali took playboats and some of the parents brought boats or hired SOT kayaks for some fun. The less skilled adults provided entertainment and rescue opportunities, coming down the river upside down in their boats.
Four days training takes its toll, so one day we shortened the afternoon session and hired a raft. With Matt and Ali doing the guiding we all got another view of the river as we bounced down the drops forwards backwards and sideways! By this time we had also been joined by another family from the CS Ireland Squad, and Cian soon slotted in with the boys and enjoyed the training.
The sessions all started with a warm up on the main river and a walk up to the meeting point covering different sections of the course, followed by a chat through of what the coaching aims would cover. Matt kept the training varied, including sessions on technique, doing full runs, speed tech and general river skills. Feedback was given during and at the end of each set and the Juniors had time to write up their reflections and learning points in a paddle log. Plenty of rest, eating and keeping up the fluids in the heat were important. So was time to play!
This was a really worthwhile trip. The Juniors all grew in confidence, made the squad bond stronger, developed their slalom skills and had a lot of fun in the sun in the process. We will definitely be running another France Training Camp next year, hopefully along with training in Cardiff, Lee Valley or Nottingham, so sign up for one of our development weekends to join the slalom journey!