Swan View kayaker goes to the Max at Canoe Marathon World Championships


Max Smith out on the water with Ben Dallin.  Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au   d472963
Max Smith out on the water with Ben Dallin. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d472963

KAYAKER Max Smith is on the water before dawn every day as he trains for his first international championship.

Less than five years after taking up the sport, the 17-year-old student from Swan View will fly to South Africa to compete in the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in September.

The Swan Christian College student’s selection to the junior team to represent Australia is an honour he does not take lightly.

“I realise it’s a privilege to be selected to be part of this team and I feel I’m demonstrating my commitment through the amount of training I’m doing and my commitment to a sleep, recovery and diet regime,” he said.

His interest in kayaking emerged on a school trip with outdoor education teacher and fellow paddler Ben Dallin, who won the 2016 Avon Descent in a double kayak with Matthew Cootes.

“The first time in a canoe I fell out in a swampy part of the river, but it couldn’t have put me off because I remember thinking afterwards that kayaking was pretty cool,” he said.

He joined his school’s elite kayak group run by Mr Dallin and represented the college in Blackwood Marathon adventure races, involving kayakers, horse-riders, runners and cyclists at events in Bridgetown.

In March, Smith won a silver medal at the Australian Canoeing Marathon Championships in Sydney, where he competed in two events.

The races involved stretches of 3.75km, interspersed with a 100m portage in between.

Portage is where a paddler leaves the water to sprint with their craft before re-entering the water and continuing the race.

There were five portages in the U18 national event, with Smith paddling against Australia’s top juniors to finish fourth in the solo race and second in the doubles with WA teammate Luke Dooley.

The pair were just two-and-a-half minutes behind the winners and achieved a personal best of 1:47:35.84 in the 22.5km event.

Smith is training at Ascot Kayak Club under 2012 London Olympics competitor Jesse Phillips.

“I have about 12 training sessions a week, an hour at a time, with seven on the water in squads and races, and two to three weight and cardio sessions,” he said.

The young athlete also attends workshops run by the WA Institute of Sport where he learns about balancing his time and training with other commitments.

“I have radically changed my diet to eat healthier foods, limit sugars and get the right amount of carbs and protein I need to support my training regime,” he said.