Flatwater Kayaking or Surf Ski Paddling

By Jim on Monday, May 3, 2010

A Strategic partnership between Australian CanoeingSurf Life Saving Australia and the Australian Sports Commission's National Talent Identification and Development Program aims to develop Athletes to Olympic level.

It asks the question 'How related are our paddling sports?'  'Can athletes from one discipline benefit from the other?'

Murray Stewart thinks so.  He says that, for him, the surf ski work that he does provides good resistance training for his flat water work and his flat water work provides good technique practice for his surf work. For averages Joe's like myself, paddling around headlands and through ocean swells builds on core strength and stability. Long flat water work develops my endurance and confidence.

It all makes sense when you think of the benefits of cross training that we have discussed previously.


Many athletes who have had surf lifesaving and ocean racing success have long been successful in the flat water scene.  The reverse has also occurred.  Paddlers like  Greg Barton, Ken Wallace, Clint Robinson, Grant Davies, our own Jimmy Walker and Tony Schumacher  have featured in Olympic Kayaking Teams and national titles.  More recently, Murray Stewart and Kelly Jury are also enjoying success in both disciplines.

There are also undoubted differences between the disciplines, Greg Barton (Olympic gold medallist) has never beaten Oscar Chalopski (World Ocean Ski Champion) in surf events and Oscar has never beaten Greg in flat water.  Perhaps Greg needed to subscribe to our podcast and watch our 'chasing runners' episode. 



This initiative will uncover plenty of learnings for us all but importantly will pave Olympic pathways for athletes and help them to build skills in both flat-water canoeing and surf ski paddling.  Pushing talented athletes into both disciplines will only have a positive influence on the rest of us as we get to see more of and learn from our superstars.

Sam Lyon from Australian Canoeing says, "Never before has a non-Olympic sport, such as Surf Life Saving, partnered with an Olympic sport to provide athletes with an established Olympic pathway while remaining within their existing sport"