Rachel Kenny and her Inspirational Journey with Scoliosis Pt 2

Kayaking from Beginner to Representing Ireland


Falling Into Water Sports

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in early 2013 and had my corrective surgery in 2014. I had idiopathic scoliosis with a severe bend in my spine. I was lucky to have found my passion for kayaking a few years later in 2017. I had participated in kayaking a few times before with my school and other local camps with sit-on-tops but when I tried river running kayaks, StandUp Paddleboards and canoeing at a local open day in Balto Kayak Club everything changed and my journey with paddlesports really began. I had only gone to the open day to see a classmate and I ended up in the water and flipping myself upside down repeatedly both in the kayak and SUP. You could say I fell into the sport that day. It was a great experience. Trying different paddle sports was something I have kept up with ever since. I would highly recommend going to an open day or doing introductory courses at a nearby club if you have any interest in paddle sports or just want to try something new.

Consistently Progressing

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I joined the club soon after and started going on river trips and learning the skills needed for whitewater and river running. Since then I have progressed through my level 2 and level three skills and am currently working on level 4 skills and potentially becoming a qualified instructor in the future. I have enjoyed helping coach at my local club and different places across the country when the opportunity presented itself.


Opportunities Through Sport

After a few years of river running I started participating in other disciplines such as slalom, polo, long distance, sprint and my favourite canoe freestyle. During my final year of college I was the safety officer for DCU Canoe Club and helped with the running of the committee and events like the weekly pool sessions. If you are in DCU or any other university in Ireland I would highly suggest attending a session if you are interested in meeting new people and water sports. Joining a club is a great opportunity to try different things in a safe environment and has allowed me to travel all over the country and internationally. During this time I was an ambassador for Bridge the Gap, a women in paddlesports initiative to encourage women and girls to participate in and continue with sports and improve the visibility and media coverage of women across our sport.  I was part of that visibility when I represented Ireland in the first ever C1 womens category at a World Championship level at the Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Nottingham 2022.

It was empowering being part of the Irish team for such a historical event and making it into the top 10 for semi-finals. I am looking forward to seeing where my kayaking and canoeing journey will go from here and where the sport will go in the future. I hope to see more people taking the risk of being bad at something because it just might lead you to finding your passion.