Got a call from Tim Barnes, the sprint kayaker I profiled in today's Out There section. He said paddling conditions in Oklahoma City, where the U.S. Olympic Trials are being held this weekend, were not good. Actually, quite bad, with 35 mph cross winds.
But, Barnes said, he gave it a shot. He finished fifth in his heat and fifth in the "B" finals, putting him in roughly 14th place overall.
"My biggest thing, I was happy I wasn't last," he said.
The top paddlers, Barnes said, were able to knife through the wind and waves more efficiently than he could. They lost maybe 10 seconds to the wind, while he was 20 seconds off his pace.
Still, this was the 500-meter sprint. Barnes believes he'll do better in the marathon distances. Those aren't Olympic events, but Barnes believes he can be competitive enough to make it on the U.S. team for the marathon world championships this fall.
By the way, and here's the funny bit, that photo of the kayaker flailing in the water on the bottom of Out There? That would be me.
Seriously, I've paddled Class V whitewater. I'm a pretty decent kayaker. But I couldn't stay upright in that flatwater sprint boat long enough to take two strokes. Picture putting a three-year-old on a 10-speed bike. It was hilarious... but I was really glad I had a drysuit on.