What am I up to in AUSTRALIA?

Feb. 05, 2012, 3:16 a.m. (ET)

Most of my travel for slalom brings me to Europe for a racing filled summer, but now I’m escaping the northern hemisphere’s winter in Penrith, near Sydney, Australia. How have I been keeping busy here? Typically my day goes like this: get up early! Whitewater morning workouts start as early as 6:30 am here due to the high demand for water time; however, the favorable weather conditions and high quality of the Penrith Whitewater Stadium, a Sydney 2000 venue, are well worth the early wake ups.

Both eco and budget friendly, I’ve opted to use a bike while here rather than a car. It’s just a fifteen-minute cruise down the hill from my neighborhood to the course, faster than my dorm to the USNWC by car! The whitewater workouts are an hour long, and largely focused on technique. The technical focus this year is a bit of a change up from this time last year for me. I elected to stay in North Carolina all winter to train on the flat water rather than pull myself away from school to train. While last year’s emphasis on conditioning was helpful and productive, I wanted to race earlier this year than I did last year. Instead of starting in the middle of March, I will start competing next weekend.

In keeping with PEP (presence, extention, and persistence blog here), I have continued to emphasize my individual stroke quality. Reaching forward and rotating appropriately each time. A challenge I’ve encountered here is getting the stroke timing right over all the little waves and holes here on the Penrith course. It’s been a fun skill to work on and I can already see some improvement in my paddling. Along with the stroke timing, the wave features of this course are great for practicing one’s edging skills. Improving the timing and edging combo will certainly be a goal of mine leading up to this first race.

After the workout, I’ll head back up the hill (a little slower than fifteen minutes this time) for some decompression. Since my sophomore year of high school, the year of the Beijing Olympics, I have known that I would take the spring of 2012 to train. Although my love for Davidson life, students, and learning made it difficult for me to leave, I applied for a semester’s leave. I stand by this decision to relieve myself of a full Davidson load, but I did not leave empty-handed. Under the supervision of the Davidson Education Department, I am working on an independent study: Theories of Coaching. Through this research I hope to learn about the application of educational principles to sport, the science behind training, and some basic information on physiology and nutrition. Learn more here.

What else? Generally I’ll have two whitewater workouts per day or a whitewater, flat water, and gym combination. It’s been great to continue the weightlifting and core programs we worked on in Lake Placid, I feel on-task and more informed about my cross training now. Although I race on whitewater, I still love flat water workouts. Whether it’s a resistance, cardio, or technical workout I am always reminded of how I started slalom, an eight year old playing around in the flat water gates at Valley Mill Camp.

After making my final ascent back to my Aussie residence, I’m tired and ready to relax. After a day of classes and training, this would mean walking down to my eating house at school and enjoying dinner already made. Here, I come home to my own kitchen. Prior to this trip I never really had to cook for myself. At home my parents are always making tasty dishes and at school I have an awesome meal plan. Before coming here I was really nervous about making everything on my own, since prior to this trip my culinary bragging rights were limited to “I make a fabulous yogurt parfait”. While my parfaits are great for breakfasts and easy lunches, I really wanted to be able to make good dinners. With some tips and encouragement from my family, I’ve really come to enjoy cooking! I started small with grilled chicken and salad, but have worked my way up to more creative dishes like fish tacos, falafel with homemade hummus, and calzones. This way I get to make something really satisfying, both in taste and nutrition.

That’s largely it! I’m enjoying my time here immensely; doing my best to keep in touch with everyone I miss at home. I’ve started collecting training videos so that I may share my whitewater experience with everyone! For more regular updates, please check out my Facebook fan page!

Thanks for reading!