Our white water kayaking trip, which was sponsored by Marriott Hotels as part of the London 2012 Cheshunt Olympic Preparation Squad (COPS) started with a sleepover at the Herts Young Mariners Base as we had an early morning flight from Stansted Airport, and we had to be sure that everyone was going to be at HYMB on time. When we got to the airport at about 6am we were in good time for a 7:15am flight to Turin, Italy, as we had already checked in. The flight was good and took about 2 hours so not too long.

On our arrival in Turin the leaders hired some cars at the airport and we started our 2-hour drive back into France.

A van with a trailer had previously left HYMB carrying all of our gear and the canoes / kayaks, to meet us at our camp.

We arrived at the camp in L’Argentiere La Bessee during the afternoon and set up the tents for the 10-day stay. We had a little fun in the river that evening.

While we where in the Alps we got up to lots of fun activates on the water. The aim of the trip was to work hard on our kayak white water slalom skills using the European Championship course but we mixed it up a bit with other canoeing and kayaking activities.

We went on two kayaking river trips down the valley on fast moving white water but most of the time we decided to stay on site and work on our white water kayak skills for slalom.

Helen Reeves, who won a bronze medal in the Athens 2004 Olympics for K1 slalom, came on the trip with us to help us develop our kayak slalom skills. However Helen left two days early due to other commitments at the Beijing Olympics.

While we were there some of us had the opportunity to do our British Canoe Union 3 star white water award. As part of this we had to do some paddle work and also rescues.

The rescue we had to do was in the moving water using throw lines but we also did some live baiting which is where someone, already attached to a throw line, jumps in the water to grab a swimmer, and is normally used to rescue unconscious casualties.

See my video of me performing one of these white water ‘rescues’.

During the trip the campsite flooded – not what you expect in the South of France but oh yes, it happened and it was one of them times where it didn’t just rain a little, it had to flood the place! Luckily it was very hot the next day so it all dried out so we weren’t too bad.

On the last day we set the course to what it was when the European Slalom Championships were held in L’Argentiere La Bessee. It was a very challenging course and I made it down the course 3 times before I rolled. But on that occasion I got trapped in a stopper and so I had to bail out of the kayak.

Then on the final day we packed up our tents at 6am, yes that’s right 6am! for the van to start its 18 hour drive back to England with our kit and kayaks.  However we had a day to waste before we got back to the airport that evening and then started our way back to England.


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