Rafting Team Profile - GB Women's Team
We caught up with this dedicated powerhouse of female boaters as they prepare for the International Rafting Federation (IRF) 2016 World Rafting Championships. We wanted to find out who these amazing ladies flying the Union Jack are and what they're all about.
RM: If each of the ladies of your team could pass on one piece of their wisdom to boater girls just getting into the sport what would that be?
GBWT: One key piece of advice: make sure you enjoy the sport and the hard work. The results will follow.
RM: What river does your team primarily use to train?
GBWT: The team are based in London and North Wales so we train where we can. Predominantly at Lee Valley White Water Centre (London), on the Menai Strait, at Cardiff White Water Center and Nottingham’s Holme PierrePont.
RM: What does a training day look like for your team?
GBWT: We typically try to do a series of two day training sessions as a full team when we have a competition coming up - this will include sessions in each of the disciplines, some coaching feedback and video feedback if possible, planning for the event and training plans for when we are at our individual homes.
RM: Which discipline do you feel that your team excels at the most and why?
GBWT: Head-to-head. We’ve done well in it - we’re explosive and keep pushing hard until we are where we need to be.
RM: How does the team challenge itself to continually develop their boating and guiding skills?
GBWT: We’re fortunate enough to be able to train with many of the other teams across the UK and in doing so are exposed to different training regimes and coaching ideas. In addition, most of the team are involved in other sporting disciplines ranging from Team GB Canoe Slalom athlete, to GB Triathlon competitor, to hill walking - we like to bring the best of all our activities together in our rafting team.
RM: What do you feel will be the most challenging aspect of the World Championships will be for your team?
GBWT: The heat - it’s turning autumnal here in the UK and we’re wrapping up warm - the blazing sun and dry heat is something that is a few months behind us.
RM: What sort of experience and adventure does the team feel that the United Arab Emirates will offer and what is the team most looking forward to out there?
GBWT: We’ve spent a fair amount of time training in man-made courses so we’re hoping we have a slight edge on that front - but we’re not used to the dry heat so we see that as our biggest challenge. We can’t wait to compete with the other teams - it’s where we’re going to be able to showcase our talents and benchmark against the best in the world.
With ten years rafting under her belt, Fieke started as a raft guide for a Dutch company in the French Alps before joining the Dutch Rafting team until 2015 when she joined the GB rafting team.
When she’s not out rafting, running triathlons, playing volleyball or speeding down snow covered mountains, she works full time as Commercial Manager at Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Fieke does raft racing in order to work together with like minded people toward a common goal - and the greatest reward of all - signing the national anthem after all the hard work!
"I started kayaking when I was in Scouts, then joined the canoe club at University. This started an amazing period of life travelling the world kayaking and working as a guide, coaching and being an all-round kayak bum. Then I joined the Raft team and started a new adventure and I never looked back! My first competition competing for GB was in the Czech Republic and I've been lucky enough to paddle with the team all over Europe and the world. "
"Before rafting I hadn't done much paddling at all, in fact I was getting quite into triathlon, it was Deb Cook our coach that suggested I try rafting, I think she said 'you have the shoulders for rafting'! And so I did and after getting selected for the team in 2012 I haven't looked back! The main disciplines I have raced in are sprint, head to head and the endurance race. Mainly due to my love of endurance training and passion for fighting it out on the start line in head to head!"
The most seasoned paddler of the team, Lizzie has been paddling for 21 years (15 of those as a GB Canoe Slalom paddler). Lizzie competed in the 2012 London Olympics, and is no stranger to the podium having won multiple medals throughout her career including World Championships Bronze and multiple World Cup medals including Gold in the Cardiff World Cup 2013.
After narrowly missing a place at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Lizzie joined rafting this year for the fun and opportunity to paddle for GBR.
When Lizzie isn't training in her professional capacity as a GB Canoe Slalom athlete, you can find her on the water in a playboat or competing in BoaterX, and off water volunteering at a local special needs school and an adventure playground for children with disabilities.
"Began Kayaking when I was 10 and started coaching from 16, I just got hooked on paddlesport. Started guiding and racing in 2011 haven't looked back, love rafting so much! Raced with the Welsh Dragons for a couple of years, competing at European champs in 2012 in Lipno, amazing experience, down river on the Devils Stream is one of my fav rivers to date. Going to Wadi will be my first race with GBR 1 although I've been training with the girls on and off for a couple of years."
Sean Clarke - Team Manager
A fresh addition to the team and the rafting community as whole, however with over 5 years of white water paddling experience and some serious media/IT skills Sean has already made a fantastic addition to the team. Back when he started paddling it was on a whim to get fit but now he is hooked on white water, freestyle and coaching paddle sports.
Check out more for this amazing team of paddlers on their Instagram and wish them luck in their upcoming race! Thank you to the Ladies of the GB Women's Team for taking time out of their busy training schedule to tell us more about them and a special thank you to Sean Clarke for arranging access to the team and providing such awesome media.