Olympic hopes for UCSD student lie in flatwater

    To become an Olympian, an athlete needs to have talent, passion for the sport and the determination to continue to improve at it.

    Courtesy of Laurel Herriman

    To become an Olympian in kayaking, one also needs “”strength, speed, endurance and technique,”” according to UCSD sophomore Laurel Herriman.

    Herriman, who began paddling six years ago in middle school, maintains a rigorous training schedule, hoping to qualify for kayaking in the 2004 Olympic Games. In the next Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, Herriman hopes to be racing in a team boat consisting of either two or four paddlers in the 500-meter and 1000-meter kayaking events. In 2008, Herriman hopes to qualify for the games in Beijing, both individually and with a team.

    Herriman’s first interest in kayaking came when she was a 13-year-old junior lifeguard. Her lifeguard instructor was looking for young athletes to become part of the San Diego Canoe and Kayak Club, which is when Herriman’s interest in the sport sparked.

    Herriman began paddling four times a week in middle school, but then her commitment to the sport grew in high school, when she went to the Arco Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., twice a day.

    Continuing to balance time between studying and training, Herriman currently spends about six hours of her day at the training center, where she paddles, lifts weights and runs to build the skills she needs for kayaking in the future. However, during the summer — when this student-athlete attends most of her competitions — her training schedule grows even more strenuous.

    Herriman became a member of the second-strongest kayaking team in the country last June, and she competed several times in Europe this summer with the seven other men and women paddlers on the squad. In Europe, where kayaking is popular and many clubs promote it, Herriman and her team participated in events in Germany and Italy.

    To cap off this summer’s season, the Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore recently returned from the Pan-American Championships in Brazil, where she represented the United States. Racing in three four-person kayaks and one single-person boat, Herriman earned four bronze medals.

    She now looks ahead to next May, the month of two qualification races for the 2004 Olympic Games. Herriman will soon choose other women she wants to paddle with, and then the team will begin months of serious training for the qualification races, in which the top five teams out of a field of 30 will earn a chance to compete in Athens.

    After achieving her reachable goals of competing in the Olympics, Herriman has several career ideas in mind. She wants to combine her art skills with the international studies degree that she hopes to earn.

    “”I really want to do something with art and traveling,”” Herriman said. “”I am interested in all different kinds of cultures.””

    Also, Herriman said she is thinking of pursuing a modeling career to help publicize kayaking.

    “”I want to do everything I can to promote my sport,”” Herriman said.

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