Club Focus - UCD’s Canoe Club

Image Credit: UCD Canoe Club

Andrew Dempsey speaks to UCD Canoe Club’s PRO and Ents Officer Conor Knowles ahead of an exciting 2020 for the club

Like many clubs, the UCD Canoe club base themselves out of the cosy confines of the UCD Sports Centre, but, unbeknownst to many, they also train there – in the state of the art swimming pool in Belfield. 

‘UCD Canoe Club is one of the colleges most vibrant, active and successful sports clubs. This can be seen in our busy schedule: indoor training takes place in the new pool twice weekly; river trips occur around Dublin, Meath and Wicklow any given Sunday; as well as plenty of social nights and unforgettable weekends away to destinations all around the country’ – Well, that’s what their website says, and on that – we went to find out a little bit more about the club over the Christmas break.

So, to find out a little more about the club, The University Observer caught up with the club’s PRO and Ents Officer Conor Knowles ahead of what looks set to be an exciting 2020 for the club on a number of fronts. 

“There’s something in the Canoe Club for everyone,” Knowles told The University Observer. “There’s many different disciplines of Kayaking for example: Freestyle, Kayak Polo, Whitewater/River Running, Long distance, Slalom, Surf etc. If someone wanted to get into a competitive new sport, we have that, while if someone wanted to try something new, meet new friends and just chill we have that too. Our training sessions are very relaxed, with a lot of very experienced kayakers so that there’s plenty of opportunity to pick up new skills and also socialise. It fits adrenaline junkies, competitors and people who just want to relax.”

And with Refreshers Week just around the corner, there seems to be no better time to get involved with the club, especially with the added caveat that there are three events planned in the second semester with the Canoe Club.

“We go on three trips a semester, including hosting a ball in semester two and attending intervarsity’s in February. Most people aren’t aware of the amount of variety in kayaking disciplines and assume it’s just paddling on a lake,” Conor added. “We also have quite a few social nights, so that everyone becomes good friends quickly.

“This year we have a two-night ball planned in Glendalough and the intervarsity’s in Kilkenny. Last semester for the first time we had a joint Christmas party with Windsurfing and Kite & Wake with Secret Santa which was a massive success.”

There are a number of reasons why people may decide to get involved with a club, the reason for Conor was quite simplistic, and practical; “I personally got involved because I was heavily involved in Scouting before coming to college and I wanted to join a club that gave me the same outdoorsy feel and social atmosphere. I also found the adrenaline rush of going over drops and challenging myself on rivers a draw. 

“My highlight has been the trips away, initially they’re a great way to meet people and make new friends, and then become even better as you get to know everyone and have a great time kayaking and partying with a bunch of awesome people.”

And for those with a competitive edge – there are certainly a number of ways available to one who is interested in bringing theirs to the table. And of course, there are other ways in which competitions can be won, as the club saw last year.

“The two main competitions of the year are Intervarsity’s and DCPL (Dublin County Polo League). In 2018 we won Intervarsity’s, last year we came fourth. If it’s of any note we won Banter League last year.

And as for training, the club meet up to four times a week, although the club certainly appears to be operating in an enjoyable, and relaxed environment at the same time, as added by Knowles. 

“On Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9-10:30pm we have pool sessions where we practice, polo training on Wednesday and freestyle on Thursday, however this isn’t stringent. On Mondays we have Paddle Fit gym sessions in the team gym and on Sundays we have a river trip every week to rivers such as the Liffey, the Boyne, Wicklow etc.”

With plenty of goings on at the club to look forward to in the next few months, there is still plenty of time to get involved with the club, especially with refreshers just upon us. Should you wish to get in contact with the club, you can contact them via email ( Facebook (UCD Canoe Club) or also on their website (