Cornwall Teen Makes Paddling National Team

By Todd Lihou
June 7, 2012

Zachary ZwanenburgA Cornwall teen with a passion for the water has turned a labour of love into a spot on a national team.

Zachary Zwanenburg, a 16-year-old city resident, has made the Canadian National Junior Team for slalom kayaking.

Zwanenburg finished the 350-metre course in just 1:52 to solidify his spot on the team, which will compete in the worlds in July in Wisconsin.

The well-spoken young man said earning the spot on the national team is vindication of the hours he spends every week training for the sport he loves.

"There's a lot of work that goes into this," said Zwanenburg. "It feels really nice to know that all the training and the work has lead to this."

The national competition was held last weekend in Kananaskis, Alberta. Zwanenburg finished first in the C1 kayaking competition to land a spot on the team.

With the water churning around him, Zwanenburg said during the race he was focusing on maintaining a fluid pace with his paddle and digging deep into the water.

"The whole time I'm down there, I'm visualizing the gates and the strokes that I am doing," he said. "I try to phase out the rest...which helps me with stress."

Zwanenburg's parents Robert and Sylvie Lebel are thrilled. Robert is an avid paddler and it would appear the apple doesn;t far fall from the tree.

"We're very happy and excited," said Lebel.

Zwanenburg said he wants to do well at the world championships, and hopes to some day compete for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

The above article and photo were created by Todd Lihou. You can read more articles written by Todd on the Cornwall Seaway News website at


Category: Sports