Name: Zach Guay
Event: Sprint Canoe
Weight: 185 lbs
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
Club: Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team
High School: Roosevelt High School, Columbia Virtual Academy
2013 U.S. Junior World Championships Team Member
- 2013 U.S. National Team Trials in Oklahoma City, Okla.: 4th in Junior C1 1000m, 3rd in Junior C1 200m
At what age did you start paddling and how did you become involved in the sport?
I started paddling when I was 14, during the summer of 2009. My little sister had just started paddling and I had to ride my bike down the club with her to make sure she got there. Once I got down there, the coach convinced me to get in a kayak. I kayaked in August and into the fall. In the spring I didn’t want to get into a tippier kayak so I decided to try canoeing. I learned to paddle canoe in February of 2010, and have just kept improving ever since.
Where and when was your first competition, and how did you do?
My first race was Race for the Cookies on Lake Washington, which is a long distance race in early spring. I don’t remember how I did, just that it wasn’t very well. I had trouble steering and ended up running my boat into a dock near one of the buoys. I only remember that it was fun but very cold.
What has inspired you to train and compete at an International level?
No one thing really inspired me. After Nationals in 2010 I just wanted to do better, so in February of 2011 I went to a training camp in Florida with the Calgary Canoe Club. I competed at my first US trials that spring and qualified to go to Lake Placid to train. Its just been a progression from there, to racing at Olympic Hopes last fall, to hopefully racing at Junior Worlds.
What is your preference - individual or team boats, and why?
I don’t have a big preference, but I’d say mostly I like singles because I only have to rely on myself and what I can do; but if I’m in a team boat with people I like and who work hard then I think racing team boats is more fun.
What race distance do you prefer, and why?
I like all of the sprint disciplines, but the 500m is my favourite. The distance is a little too long to be a sprint and a little too short to be a distance event, which makes it really challenging and exciting.
What has been your biggest accomplishment(s) in the sport?
Racing at the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Hungary last year was definitely the race I remember most. Being in a strange country and getting to race against many other nations was awesome. Meeting some of the Germans and other international paddlers was really the best.
What is the best advice you have been given and who offered it to you?
The best advice I ever heard was in an interview with professional mountain biker Aaron Gwin. He said (of mountain biking) “Its a career, but I like to keep it a fun hobby. Its going to be short and, in the end, all we’re doing is racing bikes.” I think the idea of making sure you still enjoy your sport and not trying to take it too seriously is important. Once you start putting too much emphasis on winning every race, you’re going to screw up and you’ll just burn out. Keep it fun, stay focused, and when its all said and done, know you did everything you could and that you enjoyed doing it.
Tell us about your current training schedule? Describe an average day for you?
Normally I’ll spend one to two hours on cardio, mostly running or on the bike trainer; an hour or so lifting weights or stretching and doing core; and then I head down to Gig Harbor for a 3-4 hour paddle. In between, I work on my school work, which I’m currently doing online in order to have time for my training. Its pretty fun, just working on fitness and, now that we’re back on the water, getting the technique sorted out again.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I ride my bike. I’ve got a mountain bike so I take it to a lot of the trails by the lake near my house or go on the bike path and just ride for a couple of hours without anything to do or think about. Sometimes I’d just go out without any real plan for a ride, ride up the path around the top of the lake back down the other side, just chilling out and relaxing rather than having it be “training” or feeling any pressure.
Next summer, the Junior and Under 23 World Championships are in Canada, what did you think when you first heard the announcement? Have you been to Canada before?
I thought it was really going to make traveling easier. I’ve been to Canada many times and in many ways don’t find it dissimilar from the US. I’m excited the race is in Welland; I like Canada and know a lot of Canadian paddlers. It’s the next best thing to a home race!
What would you like to do after your Canoe/Kayak career is over?
I want to travel around the world, but I would also like to stay in paddling. I don’t think I could ever give up paddling entirely. I want to work as a coach or as a physical therapist or trainer.
What is your favorite thing about the sport of Canoe/Kayak? Do you have any special memory that you would like to share?
My favorite part about paddling is the everyday training. The basic routine of trying to get a little stronger in the weight room, a little faster on the water. Going and seeing my friends at the club and just living the life is really the best thing about it.
What is your goal for the 2013 season?
My big goal for this season is to win a medal at the Junior World Championships.
What is your dream goal?
Of course winning an Olympic medal would be fantastic, but just being able to stay in the sport and keeping racing and competing for many years would be living the dream.