The following report was provided by CANI Slalom Squad member Alistair McCreery on his experiences during a Slalom Camp held in Dublin earlier this month
Early on Saturday morning, members from each of the three CANI slalom squads (TID, Development and Talent) gathered at Shaw’s Bridge to load up the minibus and trailer and begin the journey down to Dublin, stopping at Dublin airport on the way to pick up Andrew Hadfield, who would be helping Matt with the coaching over the weekend.
The main purpose of the trip was to gain experience on sluice weir, as this is where Irish team selection races will be taking place in two weeks time. (5th and 6th of March, more details on the Irish canoe slalom website) With this in mind, we spent Saturday morning working on some basic drop technique. Sluice isn’t a difficult course, however it can take time to switch on to how the main feature works, and how to navigate it in the quickest possible way. I have made the journey to Sluice several times over the last few weeks, however, this camp was a great opportunity to get some coached time on the feature. I found it very useful having Andy there as a fresh set of eyes on the drop. He was able to challenge the way I had been doing different moves on the drop and hopefully change them for the better!
The afternoon session on Saturday was similar to the morning, with longer courses being introduced. More technical moves were put in and everyone was pushed to find their way through the courses. To paddle well at sluice it is important to be comfortable paddling in close proximity to the walls on either side of the feature. The way the water flows through it, timing your strokes to be as close to the wall as possible, with speed in the right direction is key. This became more and more evident as the session went on. Once we were becoming more consistent in achieving the courses it was time to focus in on the quickest and most efficient way to do them, as this is what will make the difference on race day. After two long and cold but also useful sessions on the water we headed back to the guesthouse for something to eat and some much needed rest.
Sunday followed a similar format with two ‘on the water’ sessions. We didn’t have to be up too early, and were out of the guesthouse and back at the sluice by 10 o’clock. Another drop tech session in the morning helped to reinforce some of the moves from the previous day, whilst also bringing some tighter more technical moves. The idea being is that if we are comfortable with these more difficult moves, when it comes to racing the courses set will be much more approachable, and we can take them on with confidence. The final session on Sunday was a full runs session. For me, this was my best session over the weekend. I had three solid runs, with two out of the three being clean. This was an opportunity to bring together all of the technique we had been doing over the last three sessions and put them together into one run.
Overall the weekend was a useful one. Thanks to Matt for organising and to Andy for coming in to help with the coaching over the weekend. Thanks also to the two parents (Brendan and Fiona) for all their help making sure the weekend went smoothly. A well done must also go to the two Talent ID squad members (Patrick and Fearghal) who both put in huge amounts of effort over the weekend. It was a cold one and I was impressed with their ability to get on with the session, despite the difficulty of both the conditions and the course its self, well done!
We are making the journey to Dublin once again this weekend (27th /28th February) for more time on the course before the selection races the following weekend. All details of the races are on the Irish canoe slalom website and it would be great to get as much support as possible over the weekend!