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About the Sport


About the Sport

Sprint Canoe Kayak is all about speed on the water.  Strength, technique, endurance and raw speed are all elements of this Olympic/Paralympic sport.  Our sport isn't just for elite athletes, paddling can be enjoyed by kids as young as six to adults in their 80s+.  It's a sport that involves the entire body, including the legs which push and pull to generate power with the stroke.

Join a Club
Join a Club

CKO Sprint provides the framework for Ontario canoe clubs and their members to participate in provincial programs.  We are divided into two geographical divisions, Eastern Ontario Division (EOD) and Western Ontario Division (WOD) that represent 27 canoe clubs.


Whether you're looking for something fun to do in the summer or are an aspiring Olympic/Paralympic Champion, our member clubs offer a variety of programs for all skill levels & age groups.

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  • Resource Package Overview
    Dear Athletes, Welcome to our Spring Training Camp Resource Package and congratulations on your commitment to excellence! We are thrilled to provide you with a comprehensive resource package that includes a packing list, a cleaning checklist, assistance with school, a training zone chart, nutrition resources, and mental health resources. As you prepare for the camp, be sure to pay close attention to the packing list and include any necessary first aid items such as blister dressings and other injury preventatives. Please note that some over-the-counter first aid items in Canada require prescriptions in the US, so it is advisable to bring them with you to prevent any training interruptions. Our team dietitian, Holly Pitters, has curated the nutrition resources to help you with meal planning, grocery shopping, balanced eating tips, and delicious recipes. The simplified training zone chart is designed to provide you with a deeper understanding of pacing, stroke rates, and training zones. The cleaning checklist resource is designed to help divide duties among roommates at the training camp. This resource will ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their responsibilities and will help to keep the living quarters organized and tidy. Training at a high level can bring both physical and mental challenges, and being away from home for an extended period of time can add additional stressors. The Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario (CSIO) has included a package of mental health resources in the resources package to help athletes manage the challenges and stress that may arise during a spring training camp. It is recommended for athletes to explore these resources before arriving at the camp and to remember that taking care of both physical and mental health is crucial for a successful and fulfilling training experience. All of these resources and more are conveniently available online at We hope that these resources will assist you in making the most of your training camp experience and wish you the best of luck in your training journey. Sincerely, Hayley Plante CKO Sprint Athlete Services Manager
  • How to register for a course
    All coach education workshops are available on Follow these steps to register: Go to Click on 'The Locker' on the right to get to the Login page. Log onto your Locker profile with your NCCP # and password. If you are a new coach and don't already have a NCCP #, click on the 'Don't have an NCCP #? Create one now!'. Follow the steps to create one. Your coaching number will be assigned to you right away. You will then see it in your Profile. Click on Calendar (top tab). Filter by Month and Province. Filter by sport (Canoe Kayak). The workshop you are looking for will appear on the right. Click on the appropriate workshop for full details. Click on 'Register for this Event' on the right side of the workshop information page. Complete any workshop pre-requisites. ​For more information on Coach Development contact CKO Sprint’s Technical Director, Ryan Blair
  • What is NCCP?
    The National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) is a world-renowned Coach education program which enhances quality coaching. The NCCP is governed by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) which designs and implements standardized certification and professional development programs across Canada. ​
  • Where can I find NCCP Multi-Sport courses?
    NCCP multi-sport courses are provided by the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO) and are hosted throughout the year, either in-person or online. Please go to the link below to check out the CAO's workshop calendar. NOTE: it is advised that you register for any CKO Sprint workshop prerequisites in advance of the workshop to ensure you have the required certification to enroll in the workshop. Interested in hosting a NCCP workshop? Contact Ryan Blair for details. NCCP WORKSHOP CALENDAR
  • Training vs. Certification
    NCCP coaches are described as follows: In Training – when they have completed some of the required training for certification Trained – when they have completed all required training for certification Certified – when they have completed all evaluation requirements for certification
  • Canoe Kayak & NCCP
    Canoe Kayak Canada (CKC) and Canoe Kayak Ontario (CKO) Sprint provides NCCP certification, evaluation and development opportunities for members working with paddlers at every stage of development.
  • Safe Sport Training
    By completing the Safe Sport Training e-module, you will gain the knowledge and skills to create healthy and safe environments by recognizing, addressing and preventing maltreatment in sport. Target Audience: Coaches, administrators Cost: FREE
  • Commit to Kids
    The Commit to Kids online training provides leaders with practical information to help enhance child and youth safety in sport. It highlights the importance of understanding boundaries, sexual misconduct and reporting inappropriate behaviour. ​ Target Audience: Sport administrators, sport leaders with HR responsibilities. Cost: $12
  • Respect in Sport
    The Respect in Sport Activity Leader online training course is designed as a tool to assist coaches in identifying and dealing with abuse, neglect, harassment, and bullying in sport. ​ Target Audience: Coaches, recreation leaders, teachers Cost: $35
  • NCCP Make Ethical Decisions
    NCCP Making Ethical Decisions training helps coaches identify the legal, ethical and moral implications of difficult situations, leaving coaches with no doubt as to what to do when the going gets tough. ​ Target Audience: Coaches, teachers, and recreation leaders. Cost: $15 – $85
  • NCCP Empower+
    NCCP Empower+ provides coaches and leaders with the tools to enhance athlete welfare by; recognizing the potential for, and presence of maltreatment in sport, and learning when and how to intervene when you observe or suspect maltreatment. ​ Target Audience: Coaches, teachers, recreation leaders, and administrators. Cost: $15 – $85
  • What is LTAD?
    Canoe Kayak Canada has a Long-Term Athlete Development Model that follows Canadian Sport for Life’s framework. Appropriate phases of development are defined for specific age groups based on science and research. By aligning programming with CS4L’s strategy to improve the quality of sport in Canada, Canoe Kayak Canada and Canoe Kayak Ontario Sprint are increasing participation in sport and creating a pathway for athletes to reach their fullest potential.
  • How do I get started?
    ​Never paddled before? If you live in Canada, it’s about time to make your way to a nearby club and get involved in a uniquely Canadian sport. The fun you’ll have splashing around and learning new skills will surely inspire you to continue fulfilling your fitness goals while making new friends and enjoying the outdoors. It might even inspire you to pursue the sport on a competitive basis.
  • What is a regatta?
    A regatta is our name for a competition where nine boats line up head-to-head, spaced across the race course in nine-metre wide lanes. A starting gate system is often used to hold the nose of each boat and drops below the water with the starting signal. At the finish line, competitors give a final “shoot” by throwing their weight backwards and pushing the nose of the boat forward to edge out the competition. The paddler must cross the line in their boat for the result to count. Digital timing systems are used to clock the competitor’s finish right down to the thousandth of a second. A typical competition format starts with preliminary heats in which the fastest boats advance to semis and finals. Sometimes the top finishers in a heat will qualify directly for the final. The fastest qualifier is seated in the middle lane with the next fastest on either side, right out until lanes one and nine. Competitors must stay within the middle section of their nine-metre lane to prevent them from gaining an advantage by riding the wash of a leading boat.​ There are also longer distance races like the 5000 metre that begin with a mass start. Conventional lanes are thrown to the wayside as paddlers do loops of the course. They jockey for positions around the turns, strategize, and ride wash with their competitors to conserve energy for the final breakaway in a true test of on-water endurance.
  • Can I go to the Olympics/Paralympics?
    Canoeing and kayaking have strong roots in Canada and it is fitting that we’ve experienced such phenomenal success on the world stage. If you’re interested in high-performance sport, we’ve got the coaching, programming and infrastructure across the country to enable athletes to excel to the highest level. Since 1936, Canada has won 29 Olympic medals in sprint. If it’s your dream to increase that number, then we’ve got programs for you. Training groups train before school and after. Join a group of motivated teammates in pursuit of making the transition from Junior to National Team athlete to the world podium.
  • Is there an age limit?
    The many adults who make the annual trek to the Canadian Master’s Championships and enjoy paddling – some of them into their 70s and 80s – are a testament to this statement. Enrolling your kids in Canoe/Kayak doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines watching. Masters groups paddle at clubs across the country several mornings or evenings a week. It’s a great way to stay in shape while being social. And if you want some time to relax on the sidelines before or after practice, the lakefront isn’t a bad place to do that either.
  • Can persons with a disability participate?
    Anyone who has experienced the joy of paddling would surely agree that it is something to be made accessible to everyone. Canoe Kayak Ontario Sprint is a leader in creating opportunities for people with disabilities. Paracanoe programs offer persons with disabilities the opportunity to pursue sport to the highest level. Paracanoe made its debut on the 2016 Paralympic program. Athletes compete in different categories based on the ability they have in their legs, trunk and arms. The fact that you don’t need to be able to run or walk makes this an ideal sport for people with limited use of their lower body. ​ Canoe Kayak Ontario is also a Partner in Play sport with Special Olympics Ontario. Many clubs provide programs for persons with intellectual disabilities. These programs allow persons with disabilities to enjoy paddling, learn new skills, have influential role models and gain self-confidence in the true spirit of the sport.
  • What programs are available for kids?
    Canoe Kayak Canada’s CanoeKids program get kids active and on the water. Learn the fundamental skills of paddling and safe boating skills while enjoying the summer at your local paddling club. It’s the first step to a lifelong interest in paddling and healthy living. What better way to spend a summer vacation?
  • Can the whole family participate?
    Many generations of families have grown up at local canoe clubs. The families who make the Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships their summer vacation will tell you there is no better family photo than one with a few medals.
  • What type of equipment is used?
    Racing canoes and kayaks are extremely narrow and balancing in them requires some skill. Boats used in competition must meet international standards governing length and minimum weight. There are one, two and four-person kayaks and canoes, as well as a 15-person canoe (C-15). The main race distances are 200, 500 and 1000 metres. The 200 metre is a pure sprint event which attracts paddlers with the fastest raw speed. Endurance is a bigger factor in the 1000 and 500 metre events. Athletes usually specialize in an event later in their career. Kayakers use a double-bladed paddle and are seated in the boat. They have a rudder for steering and control a stick with their feet. ​ Canoers balance on one knee and paddle only on one side of the boat. They steer entirely with their paddle and do a “J” stroke to make the boat run straight. In crew boats, the back person of the canoe steers but in kayak it’s the “stroke” or front person who controls the rudder. The stroke also sets the rate and synchronization is key for crew boat performance. Canoers specialize on the right side or left and are paired up with the opposite-sided paddler for crew boats.
  • Is Canoe & Kayak an individual or team sport?
    Canoe & Kayak offers a unique blend of individual and team sport. Out on the water in a single boat, you can enjoy a refreshing sense of mental solitude. While training in crew boats or in a group alongside your fellow training partners, you have the chance to push one another in an inspiring and cohesive environment. C-15 is the apex of team events in which fifteen paddlers join together.
  • Tips for starting a Special Olympics program
    Start small: it is better to start off with a smaller group so that you can focus on each athlete individually and assess how the program is running. Have a plan: set up all the program logistics before the start of the session. It will run much smoother if all your coaches and athletes know what is going on in advance. Have a goal of where you want your program to go: After the first few sessions, begin to think about how you want your program to evolve, whether you want a more competitive or recreational program. Be sensitive to the athletes' and parents’ needs and emotions: though you may have certain goals for the program, keep in mind that it is there for the athletes and that their goals may differ from yours. Also, make sure to pay attention to your athletes' needs. Every athlete is different, so try and find out what works best for each one.
  • What is a Special Olympics Partners in Play program?
    The Partners in Play initiative fosters the development of partnerships between Special Olympics Ontario and local community sport organizations creating opportunities for athletes with an intellectual disability. By registering, your club will be able to use the Special Olympics Ontario logo, which will help in recruiting athletes. Your club will also be registered in the Special Olympics Ontario database, allowing athletes to register for your program through Special Olympics Ontario.
  • I am having issues with recruiting new members; how can I improve my chances?
    Recruiting paddlers, especially at the start, can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a program. Try reaching out to the Special Olympics community in your area. Contact high schools, learning centres or promote your program at other Special Olympics sporting events. Often, you can find schedules for other Special Olympics sports on community websites. Using the Special Olympics Ontario logo will also improve your chances, so try to include it on any documents pertaining to your program (you must be a Partners in Play program to use the Special Olympics Ontario logo).
  • When should I start my Special Olympics Program?
    Late winter or early spring allows plenty of time for your coordinator to set up the program before the start of the season.
  • When can I expect my program to become competitive?
    Some programs develop more quickly than others, but it will often take a few years before your program becomes competitive. It is important to let the athlete decide how they would like to participate, whether they want to train and compete or paddle for fun.
  • How to create a Special Olympics Canoe Club Program
    PHASE 1: Set-Up Designate a program developer/coordinator to lead the program. This can either be a volunteer position or a paid position. Look for grants in your community to help. Communicate with Special Olympics Ontario about your intentions to start a program. Create a Special Olympics Ontario Partners in Play program Partners in Play program allows athletes to sign up for your program through Special Olympics Ontario. Allows your club to use the Special Olympics logo. PHASE 2: Organization and program logistics Start planning how you want your program to run. Pick dates and times. It is important to make sure the dates and times chosen fit with the Special Olympics weekly schedule for recruitment purposes. Special Olympics athletes often have other sport commitments during the week so try and plan accordingly. Contact your community Special Olympics Organization to determine what dates would work best. Create registration forms and work out cost requirements for the program. Try-Out nights: Because this is a new sport in the Special Olympics community, it is useful to start with try-out nights. This way athletes can try the sport without committing to a full season. Try out nights can be structured as following: Once a week throughout the season. Charge athletes on a per session basis. For example, you can charge athletes 10$ for their first session and 20$ for any subsequent session. Very high coach to athlete ratio (1:1 or 1:2). This allows you to assess the paddlers ability in a safer environment before they join the actual program (which will likely have a lower coach to athlete ratio). Set a maximum number of athletes per session (6-10 athletes depending on number of coaches). Prioritize safety; this may be an athlete’s first time in a canoe or kayak. Start with stable boats such as recreational kayaks and canoes. It should be clearly communicated that athletes must be comfortable in and around water to participate in your program. Begin to recruit coaches and volunteers: Coaches can either be payed or volunteer for the position. Consider paying coaches using the money gathered from try-out nights. PHASE 3: Recruitment Once your program is set up, it’s time to recruit athletes. Contact your community Special Olympics organizations. Create and distribute flyers. Share on social media. PHASE 4: Develop your program Once you have an athlete base, you can create a pay per season program. Try setting up a competitive and recreational stream. This will allow paddlers to choose whether they want to compete at regattas or just paddle and have fun.
  • Should I pay my coaching staff, or should I hire volunteers?
    Ideally, you should try and run the Special Olympics program the same way as any other program, using a mix of paid coaches and volunteers. This isn’t always possible since the coach-to-athlete ratio is often much higher than in a normal program. If this is the case, try recruiting high school students. As a requirement, high school students in Ontario must volunteer 40 hours before graduating.
  • Equipment
    A double-bladed paddle and kayak are used for K1 while a single-bladed paddle and an outrigger canoe are used for the V1. The K1 is typically slightly wider than a standard sprint boat to allow for some additional stability. In V1 the single outrigger helps an athlete balance. Custom seats and back support are also common adaptive elements.
  • Paracanoe Lingo
    Va’a – a canoe with an ama. The V1 design is modelled off the va’a which has Polynesian origins Ama – the pontoon on an outrigger V1 boat ​Classification – the process of assessing an athletes’ ability based on certain criteria so they can be properly placed in the categories listed below Medical Classifier – a classifier who assess an athlete based on medical criteria Technical Classifier – a classifier who assess an athlete based on technical criteria KL1, VL1 (LTA) – category for a paracanoe athlete who has use of their legs, trunk and arms KL2, VL2 (TA) – category for a paracanoe athlete who has use of their trunk and arms KL3, VL3 (A) – category for a paracanoe athlete who has use of their arms
  • Competition
    Paracanoe competitions are run in the same format as sprint competitions with nine boats lined up head-to-head and competitors progressing through heats, semis and finals. The standard race distance for Paracanoe is 200 metres. Events: Men’s KL1 200m, Men’s KL2 200m, Men’s KL3 200m Men’s VL1 200m, Men’s VL2 200m, Men’s VL3 200m Women’s KL1 200m, Women’s KL2 200m, Women’s KL3 200m Women’s VL1 200m, Women’s VL2 200m, Women’s VL3 200m Classifications: KL1 and VL1 (formerly A; Arms) This grouping is for paddlers who have no trunk function (i.e. shoulder function only). A KL1/VL1 class paddler is able to apply force predominantly using the arms and/or shoulders. KL2 and VL2 (formerly TA; Trunk and Arms): paddlers who have good use of the trunk and arms, but limited use of their legs. They are unable to apply continuous and controlled force to the footboard or seat to propel the boat. KL3 and VL3 (formerly LTA; Legs, Trunk and Arms): this class is for paddlers with a disability who have good use of their legs, trunk and arms for paddling, and who can apply force to the foot board or the seat to propel the boat.
  • Paracanoe Explained
Become a Coach


Coaches play a key role in sport by fostering an environment where participants can learn, develop, and create a lifelong love for sport.

CKO Sprint will be providing virtual coach education workshops in May, June & July, including Community Stream (Canoe Kids) and Competition Introduction (ELCC).  Both workshops will be live, interactive experiences.  



Volunteers are an integral part of CKO Sprint and its programs and events. If you are looking for opportunities to learn, meet new people, and give back to your paddling community, you can volunteer for one of CKO Sprint’s many events that take place throughout the year.

Boards & Committees

CKO Sprint is a volunteer-governed and staff-driven organization.  If you are interested in serving on a board or committee please express your interest to CKO Sprint Chairperson, Gilles Cinq-Mars.

Event Volunteers

​Volunteers are needed at every event.  Volunteering for an event-day role, like a safety person is a great way to get involved.  View the Events Calendar and contact CKO Sprint's Technical Director, Ryan Blair to find out how you can get involved.

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Officials ensure fair and high-quality competitions.  They run the competition according to the rules to produce accurate results. 


Becoming an official starts at the local club level.  Many begin by casually volunteering at a competition and learning from other experienced officials.  If you are interested in officiating at an event please contact CKO Sprint's Technical Director, Ryan Blair.

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