Boat: Bell Starfire

Some people compare Freestyle to dressage, others call it 'obedience class for your canoe'. It can remind you of the elegance of figure skating, especially when watching Interpretive Freestyle performed to music. But Freestyle can be a lot more to a paddler than just striving for technical perfection or making a canoe dance.

Freestyle is reduction to the essential - water, body, boat and paddle - in perfect harmony. From this perspective, Freestyle can even get a meditative quality. When I am on the water practicing, I leave my workday's pressure and hectic behind me and my mind comes to rest.

However, don't forget the exciting aspects. I do sweat doing Freestyle, not from physical effort but from concentration and thrill. In the US, Freestyle is a competition sport and championships are held every year. Next to perfect paddling technique, showmanship is an important aspect of Freestyle competition.

So Freestyle can be experienced very differently by different paddlers. And that's perfectly all right! :-)