Fort Erie’s Isaac Zimmerman paddles towards the national kayak team
When Isaac Zimmerman goes up the creek, it’s good with a paddle.
The 16-year-old grade 10 student is heading to Europe to continue his training ahead of competing at the ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships July 5-10 in Ivrea, Italy.
His path to the world stage began a few years ago during a family vacation. It was there that he first picked up a paddle and tried the sport.
“About six years ago I went north to Palmer Rapids,” Zimmerman said. “We just sort of went for a vacation, and I got signed up for the kids program to paddle.”
He fell in love with the sport and wanted to learn more.
“It turned out the coach was a slalom and kayak coach and I just made that connection and went from there. I started paddling with him regularly, then after probably three years of paddling with him for fun, I was introduced to slalom and that’s when I started going to Ottawa more to training with the coaches there.
Now he’s out on the water every day paddling Black Creek, training on his own. He travels to Ottawa once or twice a month to work with national team coach Mihal Staniszewski.
Last March, Zimmerman traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina on what he called “greatest whitewater courses” before heading to Oklahoma City earlier this month for the championships. Pan American Championships, which also served as the Canadian team’s qualifier for the world championships.
“So it was kind of a big race,” Zimmerman said with a smile.
In Oklahoma City, he placed second in canoeing and third in kayaking (for the Canadians), earning him a spot on the team heading to Italy.
Winning a chance to represent Canada was all about mission accomplished for Zimmerman.
“My first goal was to make the junior team and go to the Junior Worlds,” Zimmerman said. “So now that I’ve done that, I don’t really have a specific goal, but I was planning to keep paddling, keep training hard and kind of see where the sport takes me.”
He knows he will have to face tough international competition. At this point, he has no idea where he might end up ranking, but he’s not too concerned about what his outcome might be. He said it was more about gaining valuable international experience.
“It’s the first time I’ve been there, my first competition at this level,” he said. “So I’m just looking more to gain experience and hopefully improve next year.”