White Water Legacy | Eclectic Cake: White Water Legacy

Friday, 9 May 2014

White Water Legacy

Upon entering the Lee Valley White Water Centre, I had to hold back tears. The sign said it was "where history was made" and I felt it at this Olympic venue. Any mention of the 2012 London Games still sends me spiralling into a blubbering mess. But so strong was the pride and spirit of that summer, I'm sure I'm not alone.

And that's brilliant! It means the Games got a nation interested in all sorts of sports. A legacy has been left. Just in time, too! Currently only 6% of men and 4% of women do enough exercise in England. Hoping to change that is Spogo.co.uk, an online search tool that helps anyone find a way of moving more. Developed by ukactive using a Sport England lottery grant, the site has collected over 121,000 different classes, clubs, event and sports, including kayaking and white water rafting...

Kitted up and instructed on the basics, we tested our kayaking skills on calm water with a game of stuck in the mud - get caught and you have to stay still with your paddle in the air until someone releases you with a tap on your canoe. It's funny how adding urgency to escape improves your paddling. It was also surprising just how much my abs started to ache - this was a serious workout!

Thankful for a bit of a rest, we joined our canoes together to test our balance - head, shoulders, knees and toes never felt so wobbly! Amazingly, no one fell in but, not content with staying dry, a few of us volunteered to capsize our canoes. Being upside-down was pretty disorientating but before my brain could work out which way was up, my life jacket had sprung me to the surface.

Each of us was given equipment to ensure we were safe - helmet, life jacket, wetsuit and boots - but there was a greater risk of capsizing on the white water so, before heading off on the raft, we practiced saving eachother from the side of the boat. A quick dunking saw the rescuee pop up out the water and become light enough to pull back on the raft. With a few aqua-phobes in the group, the thought of going overboard - no matter how prepared - was terrifying. So I'm incredibly proud that everyone in the group gave rafting at least a little go.

We took on the white water course five times, each lap getting more 'lively'. Our instructor have us orders to paddle or sit down in the bottom of the raft or lean to the side. Each action made the boat behave differently in the water, from a fairly gentle ride to 'surfing' the waves as they bash you in the face - all enjoyable I assure you! And once again, reaching the paddle to drive us forward was tough work. I stepped off the raft with noodle arms and a sore core but most importantly, a massive smile.

If you fancy giving kayaking or white water rafting a go visit the Lee Valley White Water Centre website. Or check out Go Canoeing for canoe events and clubs around the country, including Go Canoeing Week on 24th May – 1st June 2014.

If watersports aren't your thing, visit Spogo.co.uk to find out what's on in your area.

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