Sweetwater Coaching ASP are proud to be supporting the following athletes…
ROBERT ‘ROB’ CROWE (GBR)
Rob’s firebrand of freestyle is technical, high-flying, quick linking and progressive. He’s consistently surprising and surprisingly consistent. Living up to every bit of the hype that surrounds him. With seemingly flawless rides, and at the peak of his game, he’s worked his way up the rankings to become one of the most electrifying freestylers on the international circuit.
Rob started competing in 2007, and having taken the British Championship title in 2012 and 2013, he made his international depute at the 2013 ICF World Championships in Nantahala, with an 18th Place. A true student of the sport, these where formative year for Rob. “I’ve blended the collective styles of my hero’s – the speed and snappiness of Ed Smith combined, the smoothness and style of Pringle; with the linking of Mathieu added after Natahala”.
He wasted no time, rising his way through the rankings with 13th place at the ECA European Championships, Bratislava in 2014, and was soon finding the ride consistency needed to be on the podium including 3rd place at the 2015 ECA European Cup, Plattling, and in 2016 there was a noticeable evolution in his performance. “There was a big month in the 2016 season. It started with a 6th place finish at the European Championships and for the first time feeling like I was on the brink of breaking into the top group of paddlers. I fully joined the party two weeks later, finishing 2nd at the Natural Games. The hard work and improvement I’d made in my competition preparation were starting to pay off”
The momentum built in 2016 season was now evident on the International circuit. Mind-blowing explosive rides in 2017, placed him 4th in the ICF world rankings at San Juan, Argentina. From that time on, many considered him a serious World Championship title contender. “It was a crazy experience. I went in hoping at best for a top ten finish, having missed almost all of the 2017 season through injury. Everything then just fell in to place and coming so close to a Worlds podium on my own terms added more fuel to the fire of pursuing a Worlds medal without compromising my style”
Rob continues to show his class and potential, consistently placing on the podium. Including Makinito, Hurley Classic and winning the 2018 Natural Games Title. However, caring for an injury and balancing a long recovery with competing on the circuits, was proving challenging. In 2019, the ICF World Championships in Sort, Spain, saw him thrown down some exceptional rides, but also take hits in the shallow feature during the semi-finals, and finding it hard to adapt his style to suit the shallowness of the feature. “Although disappointed with my performance in Sort, it provided motivation to improve in areas where I feel weaknesses were exposed which I may not otherwise have noticed. Hopefully making me a stronger more consistent competitor in the future”
Rob remains, at his core, a perfectionist, with an insatiable appetite for progression. While it’s taken him a few years to find balance between the aesthetic style he aspires to, and that which is sometimes needed to win titles, it didn’t take long for him to find his game. Rob started 2020 taking 2nd place at the highly contended Galway Festival, Ireland. Rob’s inner-fire runs deep, and there’s no doubt that he’s a 2021 world title contender.
- 2020: Galway Festival, Ireland 2nd place
- 2019: British Championship, Nottingham 1st place
- 2019: ICF World Championship, Sort, ESP 9th Place
- 2018: Hurley Classic, UK 2nd place
- 2018: Natural Games, France 1st place
- 2018: Makinito, France 3rd place
- 2017: ICF World Championship, San Juan, ARG 4th Place
- 2017: British Championship, Nottingham 1st place
- 2016: Natural Games, France 2nd Place
- 2016: British Championship, Nottingham 1st place
- 2016: ECA European Championship, Plattling, GER 6th place
- 2015: British Championship, Nottingham 1st place
- 2015: ECA European Cup, Plattling 3rd place
- 2014: ECA European Championship, Bratislava, SVK 13th Place
- 2013: ICF World Championships, Nantahala 18th Place
- 2013: British Championship, 1st place
- 2012: British Championship, 1st place
OTTILIE ROBINSON-SHAW (GBR)
Ottie has been one of the most dominant junior freestylers in history, achieving two ICF World Championship titles. Gaining her first ICF World Champion Title in Argentina (2017), followed by electrifying seasons on the European and World circuit gaining her first ECA European Champion Title (2018), and her relentless drive gaining her a second consecutive World Champion Title in Spain (2019).
Ottie epitomises today’s progressive ladies freestyle movement. With massive moves, especially in the aerial realm, her explosive style, and heart-pounding approach has inspired the new generation of junior freestylers. No surprise then that she received the prestigious World Paddle Awards Junior Paddler of the Year 2018, Essex Junior Sports Personality of the Year 2018 and a nomination for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2019.
In her final event of 2019, selections for the ECA European Championships (Paris 2020), Ottie scored a record 1240 points, and is on track for a super 2020 season in the Senior Ladies. Her uncompromising approach, grounded in precision and technical expertise, is setting a new performance benchmark for the women. Today, the generation of women she’s inspiring could become her biggest challenge … and she says she couldn’t be more stoked!
- 2019: BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2019 Shortlisted.
- 2019: ICF Word Championship, Sort, ESP – 1st Place
- 2019: ICF Word Championship, Sort, ESP – SQRT 3rd Place .
- 2018: Essex junior Sports Personality of the Year 2018.
- 2018: World Paddle Awards Junior Paddler of the Year.
- 2018: ECA European Championships, Bratislava, SVK – 1st Place
- 2018: ICF World Cup, Sort, ESP – 2 x 1st Place
- 2017: ICF World Championships, San Juan, ARG – 1st Place
GAVIN BARKER (GBR)
Gav is one of the most explosive freestylers out there, with his huge air ride style likely to induce aesthetic bliss in the discerning freestyle fan. He has a passion for big white water, although for him this isn’t about competition “During the off-season I like to step away from the competition circuit. It’s all about running great lines and throwing huge air tricks, with like-minded people, enjoying pushing each other to new levels of comfort” he says. This strategy seems to be working as Gav’s at the forefront of the UK freestyle movement, and has now truly found his game on the international scene.
His first international appearance was at the 2012 ECA European Championships, in Lienz, Austria. He looked on track after some strong results on the competition circuit; but two days before the event he tore ligaments in his chest. Although now, he’ll undoubtedly admit it was a bad call, he continued with the competition finishing in 32nd placing and ultimately extending his recovery. Speaking afterwards Gav said, “At some point most athletes will have a setback due to injury. First thoughts are often around how long you’ll be off the water, or even if it will limit further progression. It was important to me to focus on reframing this in a more positive perspective, taking the opportunity for reflection and growth. This really helped my recovery and ultimately resulted in me adopting a strength and condition programme as a central part of my sport”.
He had bright spots in 2014, with his first semi-final appearance at the ECA European Championship, Slovakia, and later securing his place in the Hurley Classic super final against a world class field. He took the British Champion Title at the same event with a solid ride, throwing down air tricks and finding his flow, giving him a noticeable boost in confidence. In 2015 Gav finished a close 2nd in the British Championships, and 21st in the ICF World Championships. Still not sure about what direction to take his competitive freestyle he said, “He knew his freestyle was among the best, and his passion for the sport was not in doubt, he loved competing, it was more a matter of commitment.”
In 2017 he found the balance he was searching for; giving us the first taste of the spellbinding aerial, and quick linking rides that he’s become known for. One of only two athletes to surpass 3000 points during the men’s K1 preliminaries at the ICF Freestyle World Championships at San Juan, Argentina. Although ultimately finishing 6th, from that time on, many considered him a serious future ECA and ICF title contender.
It was evident he had raised the bar and found the consistence he desired; securing 5th place on the ICF World Cup tour and won his second British Champion Title in 2018. Continuing to build on his ranking with 13th place at the ECA European Championship, and securing 3rd place at the Hurley Classic.
Gav continued to build in 2019, finishing 8th at the ICF World Championships, Sort, Spain, and 1st place at the Hurley Classic. Not to mention throwing down an electrifying ride to finish first in the GB Team selections, setting a new ICF 2055 points world record. His impact on the international stage has fuelled the fire within the UK scene; adding momentum to it’s growing talent. He will soon take his high-energy approach to the ECA European Championships, as he works towards securing his place for the 2021 ICF World Championship.
- 2019: GB Team Selections, Nottingham, GBR – 1st Place
- 2019: Hurley Classic, Hurley, GBR – 1st Place
- 2019: ICF World Championships, Sort, ESP – 8th Place.
- 2018: Hurley Classic, Hurley, GBR – 3rd Place.
- 2018: British Championships, Notts, GBR – 1st Place
- 2018: ECA European Championships, Bratislava, SVK – 13th Place
- 2018: ICF World Cups Overall 5th place
- 2017: ICF World Championships, San Juan, ARG – 6th Place
- 2017: Hurley Classic, Hurley, GBR – 2nd Place
- 2017: British Championships, Nottingham, GBR – 2nd Place
- 2017: Natural Games, Millau, FRA – 6th Place
- 2016: ECA World Championship, Plattling, GER – 16th Place
- 2016: British Championships, Nottingham, GBR – 2nd Place
- 2015: ICF World Championships, Ottawa, Canada – 21st Place
- 2015: British Championships, Nottingham, GBR – 2nd Place
- 2014: British Championships, Hurley, GBR – 1st Place
- 2014: ECA European Championships, Bratislava, SVK – 10th Place
- 2012: ECA European Championships, Lienz, AUT – 32nd (Injury)
- 2007: Hurley Classic, Hurley, GBR – 4th Place
Marlène Devillez (FRA)
Marlène is a powerhouse in women’s freestyle. Taking an incredible 3 consecutive ECA European Championship Titles, including 11 French Championship titles since 2009; and her brand of freestyle is fast, determined, technically adept and fearless, which has everyone in anticipation of what’s next.
A firm believer in giving back to the sport she loves, Marlène coaches in Besançon and across France according to water levels. She is a member of the national commission, and since 2010 has organised a highly successful annual female freestyle course: with 25 female kayakers participating each year! “Personally, sport has really helped me and I’ve blossomed thanks to kayaking. I want to pass on what I’ve learned and certain values linked to the practice.”
With both parents as kayak instructors, Marlène has been kayaking since she was six. At age 15 she discovered freestyle and soon dedicated herself, body and soul, to the pursuit of waves and big air. So much so that in 2008 she was already working her way up the European Championship rankings placing 15th, and making her first ICF World Championship appearance the 2009, gaining 25th place.
Marlène’s total commitment to the sport and endless positivity soon saw her claim her first ECA European Champion title, and continuing to build on her valuable experiences, she was soon thrust back into the ICF World Championship looking to elevate her world ranking. She gained notoriety in the ICF World Championship 2011, with a spellbinding ride style, finishing in 9th place overall.
Her ride consistency showed through in 2012; successfully defending the ECA European Championship title. In 2013, her persona was as bright and optimistic as her rides, anchored in confidence, which took her to 11th place at the 2013 ICF World Championships at Nanthala, USA.
By now her trademark fast ride style was a glimpse of what ladies competitive freestyle would soon become. Her unique ability to control that speed and make every trick count earned her a third ECA Championship title in 2014 and 10th place at the 2015 ICF World Championships at Ottawa, Canada.
She unleashed a paradigm-shifting supply of power to the women’s field, securing her first ICF World Championship podium in Argentina 2017. “I trained a lot that year. I stopped my work for 8 months to devote myself entirely to training. I trained like I’d never trained before! I went to Chile to work on the big rivers and then to the United States, where I was able to compete against the world’s best on the circuit on the Colorado tour. And the results followed, as I won two out of three competitions”.
Marlène is now a dominant presence on International circuit. She returned to the podium at the 2019 ICF World Championships even stronger, narrowly missing the World Champion Title.
Marlene is an integral part of the ladies’ progressive freestyle movement, and now, after a second consecutive ICF Worlds Championship podium, she’s vying for a World Title and remains more determined than ever to showcase ladies freestyle.
- 2019: ICF Word Championship, Sort, ESP – 2nd Place
- 2019: GoPro mountain games, Vail, USA – 1st Place
- 2018: ECA European Championship, Bratislava, SVK – 2nd Place
- 2017: ICF Word Championship, San Juan ARG – 2nd Place
- 2016: ECA European Championship, Plattling, GER – 10th Place
- 2015: ICF Word Championship, Ottawa, CAN – 10th Place
- 2014: ECA European Championship, Bratislava, SVK – 1st Place
- 2013: ICF Word Championship, Nanthala, USA – 11th Place
- 2012: ECA European Championship, Lienz, AUT – 1th Place
- 2011: ICF Word Championship, Plattling, GER – 9th Place
- 2010: ECA European Championship, Lienz, AUT – 1st Place
- 2009: ICF Word Championship, Thun, SUI – 25th Place
- 2008: ECA European Championship, Sort, ESP – 15th Place
Extreme Whitewater Racing:
- 2019: GoPro mountain games, Vail, USA – 3rd Place
- 2018: European Championships, King of the Alpes, ITL – 2nd Place
- 2017: World Championships, Sickline, Oetz, AUT – 9th Place
HARRY PRICE (GBR)
The mild-mannered prodigy from England continues to be an emerging talent to watch, rising to the top of the UK’s youth freestyle scene. Always understated, he’s been ripping waves or holes with a relaxed poise and calm assurance from an early age. Under that humble nature lies a gnarly competitor who prefers to let his rides do the talking, with an impressive ascent through his junior career, taking the 2017 British Junior Champion title in Nottingham as well as two consecutive Junior Hurley classic Titles (2016, 2018). Undoubtedly 2018 was his breakout season seeing him secure an overall second place in the World Cups, third place in the ECA European Championships, and placing second in both the Natural Games and Makinito; all with an impressive level of constancy.
Harry navigated the pitfalls of early success with humility and style; delivering under the weight of high expectations. In 2019, after falling to 17th place at the ICF World Championships he bounced straight back, scoring 1890 points at selections for the ECA European championships 2020, and making the finals at the Galway Festival, Ireland. Once again showing his potential as a perennial title contender.
Harry remains, at his core, a performer first and foremost, with an insatiable appetite for progression, and while it’s taken him a few years to sync his style to the demands of the World Championships, today his love of the game is peaking. The process of pushing himself as a competitor, artist, and innovator is what drives him.
Going forward, he hopes to help more young people discover what following your dreams and hard work within sport can give you. He talks fondly of the 2012 Youth Freestyle series, which lit the spark for his freestyle passion, where he got to paddle with kayaking legends such as Bren Orton and James Benns. Harry aims to ensure the freestyle community stays welcoming and accessible, just like it was for him when he started.
In August 2019 Harry answered his calling for big wave multi-stage (a combination of freestyle and extreme racing) events by winning the Slave River Festival Boater Cross and obtaining 2nd place in the Extreme Slalom. Showing the ability to translate his skills from the ECA/ICF competitive arena, and further nurturing his skills with the big waves and white water of Canadas Northwest territories; giving him the breadth of river knowledge needed to pursue his dreams.
- 2019: Selections for European Championships best run 1890 points.
- 2019: ICF Word Championship, Sort, ESP – 17th Place.
- 2018: ECA European Championship, Bratislava, SVK – 3rd Place.
- 2018: ICF World Cups, Sort, ESP – overall 2nd Place.
- 2017: ICF Word Championship, San Juan ARG – 3rd Place.
- 2017: British Championships, Nottingham, GBR – 1st Place.
Extreme Whitewater Racing:
- 2019: Slave River Festival, Fort Smith, CAN – 1st Place
CLAIRE O’HARA (GBR)
Claire is the greatest female freestyle athlete of all time. Her accomplishments precede her; eight ICF World Championship titles and the highest scoring ICF World Champion in women’s history. Since arriving on the international scene in 2004, she soon ushered in a new era of high-performance freestyle, pioneering ladies freestyle K1 and SQRT with a progressive, no-holds-barred style. This provided the basis for an electrifying ascent through the world rankings to become the first female athlete ever to ‘win the double’ securing two world titles in the same day at the Plattling 2011 ICF World Freestyle Kayak Championships and repeating this amazing feat again in North Carolina, USA, during the 2013 ICF World Championship.
In 2015, Claire had another incredible season heading into the ICF World Championships in Ottawa, Canada. Literally the best venue in the world for SQRT, guaranteed to be an amazing spectacle. In an incredible day of competition Claire smashed the current world record, setting a new personal best and still undefeated high score, to take her 4th consecutive squirt world title. The pressure wasn’t off and a few days later she was back on the water in the freestyle finals. This was a very different style of paddling, wave vs hole. She had been training and preparing hard on waves and made huge improvements hitting every move on the score sheet during training for over two years, but in the end she battled to adapt to the style of feature, finishing a highly respected third, a position she was extremely happy with in her first wave World Championship.
“I learnt a lot by not winning. I had been out paddled and that was great I was very proud to bring home the bronze medal. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t gold it had been just as hard to earn.”
Hungry to demonstrate just how far women’s freestyle has come, Claire’s 2017 season was explosive; making history again, with her ‘third – double’ ICF World Champion Titles (K1 and SQRT) and breaking another world record for the highest score in ICF competitions.
In 2019, Claire brought her 7 month old daughter Sky to the World’s – making her debut appearance in the freestyle community. Even though not at peak fitness, Claire propelled her way into the ICF World Title race, finishing in 7th; just missing a spot in the finals. Being a new parent while competing at the top of the freestyle game is impressive, with Claire saying; “I learnt so much about myself mentally and physically through the process and although I was still very much recovering it was so enjoyable to be able to go out there and throw down again on the world stage.”
In between training and competitions Claire makes time to help run and organise events, develop educational resources and coaching tools and coach paddlers of all ages and abilities around the world. Her continued contributions as a coach, to the development of freestyle has unarguable reshaped the ladies freestyle landscape for future generations.
Over the years Claire’s many accomplishments have earned her numerous honours, nominations and awards as well as substantial media coverage around the world. She been named the Leeds Sports Woman of the Year four times, won a prestigious World Paddle Award and been presented with five British Canoeing Athlete Recognition Awards.
Claire was named the Yorkshire Sports Women of the Year 2016 and invited to become a member of the World Paddle Awards Academy, an exclusive body of sporting legends and figureheads within paddle sport, a prestigious achievement and a recognition of her contributions to the sport. In 2017 she was selected for the ICF Athletes Committee.
In 2019 Claire received an MBE from the Queen in the Queens New Year’s Honours List. The MBE, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a British order of chivalry awarded for outstanding achievement / impact in an area of work, was in recognition of her exceptional ‘services to canoeing’.
When asked about whether she would be competing in 2021 she replied; “Definitely. My journey as a competitive elite level athlete is nowhere near finished, there is so much more I would like to achieve in the sport. In 2021 we have the Nottingham World Championships and I can’t wait to compete on home turf. Once again my Worlds training and lead up is not going to be ideal as we currently have our second baby on the way. With the little one due in October I will have approx. 8 months this time to prepare. I feel I have a much better understanding of how to approach the recovery and look forward to giving it a really good go again next year.”
- 2019: MBE – Queens New Years Honours List
- 2017: 2 x Gold – ICF World Championships
- 2016: Gold – ECA European Championships
- 2015: Gold – ICF World Championships
- 2015: Bronze – ICF World Championships
- 2014: Gold – Mystery World Championships
- 2013: 2x Gold – ICF World Championships
- 2013: Gold – Mystery World Championships
- 2012: 5x Gold – ICF World Cup
- 2012: Gold – ECA European Championships
- 2011: 2x Gold – ICF World Championships
- 2010: Silver – ECA European Championships
- 2009: Gold – World Championships
- 2008: Gold – ECA European Championships
- 2007: Silver – World Championships
- 2006: Gold – ECA European Championships
BROOKE HESS (USA)
Brooke started 2017, her breakout year, at the Nile River Festival Uganda. Earning a second place with one of the biggest flashbacks seen. Then flying to colder climates to throw down epic rides and secure second place overall at Unleashed, a multi-stage competition in the massive cold waters of northern Quebec. The impressive results continued, earning the title of overall champion at Montreal’s Eau Vive big water competition. Later that year Brooke represented the U.S. Freestyle Kayaking Team and placed 12th in the ICF Freestyle World Championships in San Juan, Argentina.
Her electric blend of aerial tricks and pure drive soon earned her global recognition, and she was featured in Teton Gravity Research’s “Breaking Through” series for her success breaking into big wave freestyle.
Brooke’s now seen as one of big wave freestyle’s great new talents; destined to be at the forefront of this movement. With a stellar start to her competitive career, solid backing from her peers and her undoubted talent, it seemed only a matter of time before Brooke took ladies freestyle to new levels. However, for the next few years success was curtailed – with 2018 and 2019 spent away from the competition scene; recuperating from a suspected waterborne bacterial infection. Brooke made the difficult decision to step out of the competition circuit and concentrate on her recovery; focusing on her river racing skills, and easing back into big wave riding.
It was soon evident this strategy worked, starting 2020 with the Kaituna Time Trial Championship where she tied for first place. Additionally, her helix and airscrew were voted both runner up and 3rd place in the Best Trick Freestyle category at the 2020 Whitewater Awards.
In 2019, Brooke teamed up with her long time mentor and friend, Natalie Anderson, to start a women’s-only elite freestyle coaching business on the massive waters of the Slave River and the Ottawa River. Brooke plans on continuing this coaching business in the coming years while simultaneously working towards her Masters in Science Journalism at University of Nevada Reno and continuing to pursue her goals in big wave freestyle.
- 2017: ICF World Championship, San Juan, ARG – 12th Position
- 2017: Teton Gravity Research “Break Through” Series
- 2017: Nile River Festival, UGA – 2nd Position
- 2017: Unleashed, Quebec, CAN – 2nd Place
- 2017: Montreal Eau Vive, Montreal, CAN – 1st Place
VISA RAHKOLA (FIN)
ANNA BRUNO (USA)
ABBY HOLCOMBE (USA)