Kayaking and the Different Modalities to Practice it

Kayaking is a water sport that's practiced in a long canoe, either individually or in groups. It's been an Olympic sport since 1936 and there are quite a few varieties. In this article you'll learn all about this discipline.
Kayaking and the Different Modalities to Practice it

Last update: 29 June, 2019

Kayaking, or canoeing, is a water sport that uses a light, long vessel. In order to move forward, you use either a one or two-sided paddle. And so, in this article, we’ll tell you all about this Olympic discipline and the different modalities you can practice.

What is kayaking?

This sport is an official Olympic discipline and has been since Berlin 1936. You can practice it in different types of water: reservoirs, lakes, and channels.

Usually, the distances that athletes practice this sport is 200, 500, and 1000 meters. And so, during the competition, they mark the track with floating buoys to make eight lanes. Additionally, the vessels can be for one, two, or even four people, and there are quite a few varieties of paddles.

Kayaking comes from a mode of transport that the Eskimo and native tribes used. However, modern practice comes directly from Europe, to be more specific, from England. Some investigators also found the remains of long vessels and paddles in certain parts of Canada and North Africa.

It quickly became a sport, and by the 20th century, many people practiced it in different clubs. Then, the International Canoe Federation was born in 1924, and ten years later, it became an Olympic sport.

Nowadays, the countries that have won the most championships are Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, and Chile.

What are the different types of kayaking?

There are different modalities to practice this sport with variations in the vessel, number of people, and surface. These are it:

1. Still water

As its name suggests, the competition takes place on still water, without any naturally occurring waves. Competitors begin at the starting line and there are no obstacles in the track. Thus, the objective is to traverse the distance in the shortest time possible. And so, the distances are 200, 500, and 1,000 meters.

Still water kayaking

2. Slalom

Slalom is a type of canoeing that takes place on white water, or rapids. Likewise, its objective is to arrive at the finish line in the fastest time. There are different types, or levels, according to the obstacles in the competition, between 250 and 400 meters.

Slalom is performed in rapids or white water

3. Ascend, decline, and crossings kayaking

These three types of kayaking are quite different. And so, the ascend take place on a river and the athletes must paddle against the current. It’s performed in either one stage or over multiple stages and without artificial obstacles.

On the other hand, with decline kayaking, athletes paddle with the current and against time. Then, the crossings can take place in lakes, reservoirs, or in the sea. Additionally, it’s done in many stages and without obstacles.

4. White water decline

This type of kayaking has the objective of descending white water rapids in the shortest time possible. In this variety, the use of a life vest and helmet is essential and mandatory.

White water kayak is an extreme sport

5. Marathon kayaking

Marathon kayaking has an extensive list of rules. However here we’ll give you a short summary. And so, the athletes will find obstacles in their race. Therefore, in a marathon, the athletes must achieve a certain number of check-ins, previously established.

6. Kayak polo

This particular variation is a combination of water polo and kayaking, as the name suggests. Here, two teams compete with five players each, and each on a singular kayak. And so, the objective with this sport is to score goals with the ball in the opponents’ net.

Kayak olo combines water polo with a kayak

7. Adapted kayaking

This variety is for people with certain handicaps or physical disabilities. And so, in the Olympics, these have a variety of still water and slalom.

Here, we’ve only cited a few of the many types of this sport, among others we have recreational (without times or competition), white water rafting (with a single paddle), surf kayak, freestyle (with the objective to do as many tricks as possible in a period of time), and dragon canoeing (between 10 and 20 athletes in one, open canoe).

Finally, any of these alternatives are a great way to exercise if you love water sports. Try them all out and choose the one that you like best, we’re sure you’ll love kayaking.

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