Fuel for Aidan
by Rosemary Leach
Next March, 15 year-old Aidan Dumont hopes to be on a dock in Homosassa Florida.
Lots of people hope they can be on a dock in Florida.
For Aidan this opportunity has epic proportions.
There he would begin a special three-week session to train under Ontario’s top flatwater kayaking coaches. This pre-season intensive nudges exceptional young athletes to be at the top of their game when the season opens this spring in Canada.
“Aidan is going places,” reflects his Carleton Place Canoe Club coach Pat Lester.
Lester is a former paddler from the National Flatwater Kayaking team. He knows what it takes. Aidan’s accomplishments in his last season of paddling have distinguished him as “Talent Identified”.
“Aidan is the spark. He’s always there to work. And he is determined. When he walks in it brings energy to the rest of the group,” reflects Lester.
When I met Aidan to write this article I can see this is an exceptional kid. He exudes both warmth and gravitas for a fifteen year old.
But here’s what draws me to his story: Aidan has a passion. Despite a teenage culture that can often be about treading water and making an effort to stay below the radar, Aidan is committing himself categorically.
“I will do yard work, babysitting, odd jobs and I am available Saturday afternoons and Sundays,” says Aidan,
And he means it. He will do everything he can to make this happen.
His off-season training involves being in the weight room at 6am, three mornings a week. Training sessions are up to ten times a week.
Aidan is modest, but when I scratch the surface it seems that this last year has been a whirlwind of successes. First place in Eastern Ontario for both Singles and Doubles. At the Provincial Championships he received 2nd place for the 2km Solo event as well as 2nd place for Doubles.
At the Ontario Summer Games in Welland this year Aidan picked up a gold, a silver and a bronze medal. He took first place at Ottawa’s 8km Ontario Cup Marathon Paddle.
Not to mention qualifying for the National Championships in Dartmouth for August 2016.
His major competitions were “paddling up”, meaning Aidan was routinely competing and winning for the section above his age group.
Indeed some of Aidan’s senior peers on the Junior National Flatwater Kayaking team recently returned from Hungary, having paddled at the Olympic Hopes Regatta.
Out on the water, as a prodigy does, he is hungering for similar opportunities, beginning with this training to hone his skills in Florida this spring.
The training with the Ontario Canoe Sprint Racing Affiliation means paddlers follow a grueling schedule of up to 60km of paddling a day, dryland training, and the thrill to paddle alongside some exemplary athletes.
“If anyone has earned reason for additional support it is Aidan,” his coach muses.
As an onlooker, (and admittedly as someone entirely lacking in competitive anything), for me Aidan’s story is about something other than winning.
It is about a young person being hungry to learn, daring to stretch his physical and psychological limits. It is about risk and the urge to doggedly pursue what we find meaningful.
Maybe you have $10 to fuel Aidan’s dream and help get Aidan on that Florida dock this March.