Earlier this month we interviewed committee members Nick (Kit Secretary), Rachel (Vice President) and Amy (Treasurer) of the Southampton University Canoe Club (SUCC). We spoke to them about what the club offers and the recent funding they received from the Union.

SUCC were recently granted extra funding by the Union which was greatly received by all club members. They were given £1,500 which has enabled them to purchase four brand new boats, and has helped fund their white water safety and rescue course which is designed to teach members safety procedures for residential trips. Nick said: ‘we didn’t expect [the funding application] to be so successful. Amy and Grace [SUCC President] sent in a very strong application and the Union has been very generous’.

Interestingly, whilst canoe is in the title, the trio explained that the club mainly use kayaks, but have kept the title due to tradition. They told us that the club dates back years; Nick said: ‘one time we ran into some guys at the River Dart on one of our trips, and this guy was like, ‘are you Southampton Uni Canoe Club?’ He then said he used to be the President of the club, 20 years ago, in 1994! And they’re still paddling now and in the rivers that we are!’  

Active members of the club meet up regularly and have pool sessions at the Jubilee swimming pool, which gives them the opportunity to learn and practice basic skills and support strokes in a safe and controlled environment, in preparation for their river visits. The club also run exciting weekly socials, ranging from bowling to bar crawls. As well as this, members can also attend fortnightly trips away to locations such as the Lake District for £35 which includes travel, accommodation, equipment and food expenses. They also organise an annual Boat Ball, which welcomes members both old and new.

When asked what she felt to be the most challenging aspect of the sport, Rachel told us she has experienced what members of the club jokingly refer to as ‘river fear’. She said: ‘when you’re practicing in the pool you’re fine, but as soon as you’re faced with an actual river – you’re struck with the river fear! The more standing around, the longer the river fear takes to go away. You just need to get in the water as soon as possible!’

Amy commented that it is important to find the confidence to apply the skills which you learn during the pool sessions to the real rivers. She explained that this can be hard, as you’re faced with features that you wouldn’t get at the swimming pool, such as trees, rocks and rain which causes rising river levels. She said that it is important to try your best to stay calm when you capsize, as panicking will only make it more difficult for you to pull yourself up. The trio told us that they prefer it when it rains, and Nick said: ‘[rising river levels] mean you’re not scraping on the riverbeds. We’ll be sat with people who aren’t in the club and are like, ah I hope it rains this weekend, and people look at you like you’re crazy!’

SUCC welcome new members all year round, regardless of their level of experience – the only requirement is that you’re able to swim 50m to a reasonable standard. Membership is £30 for the year and includes access to the Boat Hard and all of the kit. They encourage people who are looking to push themselves out of their comfort zones and build strong and supportive friendships to join.

We loved meeting Nick, Rachel and Amy and learning about SUCC – check out some of the photos from their latest white water trip below! To find out more about what the club has to offer, and to register your interest, take a look at their social media:

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