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By Ruth Gordon

I could see the sweat accumulating on her brow as she exclaimed, ‘my heart is pounding!’

For the past few weeks I’ve been based out of Reno NV working with the Reno River Festival and a project called . Stephen Wright and I are coaching 4 local kayakers (2 beginners, 2 intermediates) so that they can compete as official athletes in the Reno River Festival next month.

This past week was a week of firsts; first time down a section of the Truckee river, first flip in whitewater, first rolls and first surfs. It was Mel, a local radio DJ, and our token female who looked at me with wide eyes and admitted her heart was pounding. In her words, ‘I was uncomfortable in my skin. And this is coming from a person that makes a living off of public speaking, the #1 phobia according to most Americans.’

Leaving the confines of the pool and hitting the whitewater has revealed a steep learning curve; charging rapids, stern squirting and surfing were all on the agenda this week.

I’ve been teaching kayaking for years but never over such a long period of time. These boaters are getting multiple coaching sessions a week and it’s amazing to watch their development. I can’t wait to see how they do next month!

If you’d like to follow the progress of check out

For more on the Reno River Festival check out

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gearing up
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putting in
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warming up