Junior Racing Skills

For 2021 there will be changes to the MRC Junior Development Squad.

The MRC, SRC and BC’s Talent Programme are launching a joint series of racing skills days and camps.   These will be inclusive, and are aimed at engaging a large number of juniors and coaches from the racing community.

Built on the back of the MRC’s  previous JDS events and the EDP days delivered by the Talent Programme, they will provide opportunities for juniors to develop their racing skills, and for club and BC coaches to share knowledge and learn from each other.

More details can be found in the attached poster, and further information will follow in the new year.

It is anticipated we will still have a named marathon Junior Development Squad in conjunction with the MRC National Training Squad, and details will follow in 2021.

Racing Skills Days Poster

MRC Junior Development Squad March 2020

A list of those who are eligible and have applied to be on this year’s MRC Junior Development Squad is here:  JDS 16 March 2020
Don’t forget, now that the racing has started again, you can join throughout the year as you get promoted.  
Boys U18 Div 3      U16 Div4
Girls U18 Div4        U16 Div5
Canoeists – one division below the kayakers.
The link to sign up is here.
At the moment this weekend’s training day at Elmbridge is going ahead, and more information will be sent to JDS paddlers, parents and coaches soon.

National Training Squad – Training Day

Please find below the link for the sign-up form for the first 2020 NTS Training Day, which will be held at Reading Canoe Club on 14 March.

This is specifically aimed at developing marathon skills in preparation for the K1/C1 Assessment Races at Reading in 2020.   Please complete the form by 10pm Sunday 7 March to confirm your attendance.

NTS Training Day 14th March Form

The day will include some short-course race practice in the morning (with full portage, timing and video feedback), followed by an interactive land-based technique session, then on-water skills sessions to close.

The aim is to give athletes a competitive training experience in a safe, non-assessment environment, where they can focus on their own key areas of development.

Further details can be found on the sign-up form, and final details will be emailed to attendees one week prior the event.

This training day is open to the following athletes:

– All NTS named squad members
– Div 1 Senior K1 Men + Div 2 U23 /Junior K1 Men
– Div 2 Senior K1 Women + Div 3 U23/Junior K1 Women
– Div 3 Senior C1 Men + Div 4 U23 C1 Men + Div 5 Junior C1 Men
– Div 5 Senior C1 Women + Div 6 U23/Junior C1 Women

If you have any questions, please contact Kat Wilson at   katburbeck@yahoo.co.uk

Marathon National Training Squad

Following the success of the MRC Junior Development Squad (JDS), the MRC has launched the Marathon National Training Squad (NTS).

This squad will be aimed at athletes who are ready to progress out of the JDS all the way to our top international paddlers; bringing these athletes together to offer opportunities and progression that will support our current and future international success.

Congratulations to the athletes who have been selected onto the squad and we look forward to welcoming more on during the 2020 season.

Click here to see the list of squad members and full details of the NTS.

Junior Development Squad Skills Day

Around 70 young athletes from 24 clubs attended the first MRC Junior Development Squad event on Saturday.  This was a skills development day, focussed on group paddling and wash-hanging, kindly hosted by Elmbridge CC and led by BC President and multiple World Champion, Ivan Lawler.

The emphasis of the day was on having fun and enabling the paddlers to develop skills in a non-race environment, thus allowing them to take risks and not worry about making mistakes. There was a good mix of on- and off-water sessions, with the “classroom” time led by Ivan.  Complete with cardboard cut-out boats on a whiteboard, he demonstrated wash-hanging and group dynamics from the simplest two-boat scenario, up to the large groups encountered in international races.  The morning’s paddle was done in small groups, but the challenges were increased by the high winds and strong flow on the river.  Luckily the winds dropped for the afternoon session, when there were various drills and challenges, this time in bigger groups, such as having to find a place in a big group immediately from a start-line.

Paddlers and coaches came from clubs as far afield as Lincoln, Chester, Swansea and Cornwall.  In addition to developing the paddlers, it was a training day for coaches of all levels, providing an opportunity for them to work together and learn from each other.  The subsequent feedback on the day has been very positive, with all those involved taking back new skills and knowledge to their clubs.

There are now over 90 paddlers enrolled in the squad, which will continue to grow as more meet the qualifying criteria following promotions throughout the year.  This ensures that all the progressive juniors around the country are able to benefit.

Many thanks to Ivan and the team at Elmbridge for putting up with an extra 100 or more people taking over their clubhouse, and to the paddlers, parents and coaches who were all prepared to turn up on a very windy day.  We are now looking forward to the next MRC JDS event – the two-day training camp at Longridge in April.

MRC Junior Development Squad


The initial MRC Junior Development Squad list for 2019 has been announced.

JDS Squad 6.2.19

The first event for the squad and their coaches is this Saturday.  Hosted by Elmbridge CC and led by Ivan Lawler, the focus is on Group Racing Skills  and over 70 paddlers have booked to attend.

A reminder to those coming:

  • Please arrive in good time – the briefing is at 9.30, and you should be ready then.
  • Please bring a bungee if you have one.
  • Please encourage your coach to come too if possible.

There is no maximum number for the squad, and paddlers are encouraged to join throughout the year once they reach the required standards below:

Boys – U18 Div 3, U16/14 Div 4

Girls – U18 Div 4, U16/14 Div 5

The application form for the JDS:





England Racing Skills Day, 13th January, Reading CC

The racing skills day at Reading Canoe Club has been rescheduled to Saturday 13 January 2018.

Reading Canoe Club in partnership with British Canoeing are delighted to be running a racing skills day on Saturday 13 January 2018 at Reading Canoe Club.

Racing skills looks to bring coaches, athletes and parents together to share knowledge and to allow those to be better informed to aid the growth of the young paddler in a fun and inventive way.

Racing skills is open to those coaches, parents and athletes who wish to compete in racing kayaking or canoeing. It will mostly be aimed at U13 upwards.

Please see here for information on the upcoming racing skills day and please click here for more details about the England Racing Skills Programme, to register an interest in this day please use the online registration form.

Any questions relating to the England Racing Skills Programme should be directed to Mark Hoile (Talent Pathway Manager – Canoe Sprint) (mark.hoile@britishcanoeing.org.uk).’

Gent Marathon 2017

The 2016 Gent Marathon will be held on 25th March next year, and each year the Marathon Committee uses this race as an opportunity to give promising young athletes aged between 14 and 17 a first experience of racing abroad as part of a national team.

If you would like your child/athlete to be considered for this event, please complete the application form below.

Team invitations are based on the criteria in this document. The key is to actively participate in local and regional training days and races throughout the winter, such as winter series, hare & hounds, duathlons etc.

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Report – Junior Development Trip to French National Championships


The event this year was held at Bouchemaine, near to Angers in the Loire valley, on the River Main. The event was held over the weekend of 26/27 September. The French organisers kindly invited us back after having attended their 2012 and 2013 championships.

The team was made up of u16 and u14 athletes, 6 boys and 8 girls, and four staff. We decided this year to race the athletes in the higher age categories so the u16’s raced in the u18 events and the u14’s in the u16 races. This was to ensure as far as possible that our athletes had good quality racing. It seems that the French marathon system is not as challenging as the UK system. As can be seen from the results the UK divisional system provides a challenging environment which particularly benefits our junior athletes.


The team travelled in two minibuses with one trailer meeting up a Wey Kayak Club on Thursday afternoon. Once the boats were loaded on the trailer and the athletes assigned to the minibuses, to match the ferry booking, we set off for Portsmouth and the overnight boat to St Malo. Off the boat early next morning for the three hour or so drive to the event meant we arrived late morning. Dropped the trailer at the course and had a quick look at the river/portage and general layout albeit the infrastructure was being set up.

The team checked into the hotel 15 or so minutes away from the course. Hotel Kyriad at Ponts de Ce. We were on a two night stay and the hotel provided breakfast and dinner. The hotel proved to be more than adequate. Motel type rooms, quiet with sufficient facilities and the meals exceeded expectation. The making of a happy team!! Well-fed and watered!! On the two race days lunch was provided at the course which again was more than adequate.

The return trip would be overnight boat from Caen to Portsmouth and onward to Wey Kayak Club.

Race Preparation

After having had lunch the group returned to the course and were able get on the water to check the course out. The course was essentially a 5km lap with a portage at the end of each lap except for the last lap which was straight to finish. The race set up was good emulating what would be found at major championships. The portage was 100m or so grassed portage with a feeding lane and pontoons at each end. The pontoons could be accessed from both sides for racing. It was clear that the right hand side of the out pontoon was favourable but the left side whilst a little slower gave an advantage at the get in end. The left side being clear most of the time. The river was wide and deep with some flow. The section through the portage and finish area on the upstream leg had to be paddled straight up the middle of the river as the bend would have meant a significant increase in distance if taking shelter from the bank. Further up the course the river swept the opposite way such that taking shelter from the bank was the way to go.


The racing started in the early afternoon on Saturday. The first races for our group were the U16 boys and girlsK2’s followed in the afternoon, 16:00, starts the U18 boys and girls K2’s. All our crews fared well with podium positions in both girls k2 races and the U16 boys and a 4th position in the U18 boys K2.

Sunday brought the K1 races for our team and greatly increased fields. There had been mixed K2 classes for the juniors and cadets on the Saturday which were well populated. The U16 races were in the first starts, 09:30, and the U18 races in the second starts, 13:00.

The U16 boys had 50+ and the girls 30+ starters. The U18 boys had 40+ and the girls 20+….good sized fields for our development athletes to compete in.

The Competition Experience

The French ran their championships very much on the lines of what would be encountered at a major championships…..

  • 100 m portage with feeding lane
  • Boat and athlete control to get on to the water for the racing
  • Course umpires at turns and portage
  • Boat weighing for the first four boats in each class
  • Doping control (none of our athletes were called)
  • Formal podium prize giving

This coupled with working with team staff and the group as a whole gave our young athletes a good insight of what it would be like at a major championships.


The medal highlights for our group were:

U16 Ladies K2 – 1st Freya Peters (RIC)/Samantha Martyn (WEY); 2nd Hafsa Kabeer (LON)/Harriet Quigley (WYC)
U16 Mens K2 – 2nd Fred Kemp (RDG)/Tim Dowden (RLS)
U18 Ladies K2 – 1st Florence Duffield (NOR)/Bronte Holden (FOY); 2nd Eloise Hall (LBZ)/Emma Russell (CLM)
U16 Ladies K1 – 1st Freya Peters (RIC); 3rd Harriet Quigley (WYC)
U18 Mens K1 – 1st Joe Hansell (B3C)
U18 Ladies K1 – 1st Emma Russell (CLM); 3rd Samantha Martyn (WEY)

The full results can be viewed at:


There is a French club video which has glimpses of some of our paddlers and excellent coverage of the starts and the portage can be viewed at:


The full team was:

Flo Duffield (NOR)
Freya Peters (RIC)
Eloise Hall (LBZ)
Harriet Quigley (WYC)
Samantha Martyn (WEY)
Hafsa Kabeer (LON)
Bronte Holden (FOY)
Emma Russell (CLM)

Joe Hansell (B3C)
Arthur Urquhart (BAN)
Matthew Callow (LBZ)
Finn Cadell (LGW)
Tim Dowden (RLS)
Fred Kemp (RDG)

Team Staff

Melvin Swallow

David Sackman

Katie Williams

Jenny Swallow

National Marathon Training Group standards

The upcoming series of assessment races will also be used to choose athletes to invite to future National Marathon Training Group events. Achieving a certain Handicap performance at an assessment race will ensure you a place in this group for the next year; a selection to the GB team for a major international ensures a place for the next two years.

Please also read the recently published guide to assessment as it contains useful tips for athletes and coaches on how to reach the GB team in marathon.

World Champion level 8 9 10 0 1 2
Range of 2014 GB Worlds team 8-10 8-10 14 1 2 3-4
Range for other 2014 GB internationals 10 11 14 2 3-4 5-6
Level required for National Training Group 13 13 16 5 5 8
World Champion level 16 EST 17 EST 18 EST 8 9 10
Range of 2014 GB Worlds team N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S
Range for other 2014 GB internationals N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S N/S
Level required for National Training Group 21 22 23 13 13 16