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Kayakers competing in the Central Otago Whitewater Blossom Festival kayak slalom under the Shaky Bridge on the Manuherikia River did not mind the bitterly cold, sleety weather in the slightest.

They were well used to the wet conditions, and wet suits helped.

The competition was the last before senior individual section winner Nick Collier
(17), along with fellow Dunstan High School pupils Tom Goldsmith (15) and Ethan Knights (16), left to attend the first training camp for the 2020 Canoe Slalom New Zealand national development squad at the Mangahao White Water Park, near Shannon.

Ethan placed second equal with Josh Scarlet in the same section.

Nick started kayaking at age 11 and is coached by Martin Hammer, of the Czech Republic and Alexandra.

‘‘I go out once a day, or maybe a couple of times day for training and have maybe 10 sessions a week.’’

The three kayakers will also take part in squad training at the Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Auckland in December, with further squad events to be held in Mangahao and Vector Wero in January.

From there Nick hopes to be selected for the New Zealand under-18 team in January, which is scheduled to travel to Europe during the New Zealand winter.

As well as kayaking, Nick plays water polo for the Alexandra men’s team.

He competed with the Invercargill team against the winning Otago men’s team at the Central Otago Whitewater Blossom Festival canoe polo competition final at Geoff King’s property at Waikerikeri Valley Rd recently.

The Alexandra team trains at the Molyneux Pool, but as that can only fit four-a-side games, they use a larger irrigation pond for five-a-side games.

‘‘Otago was really strong and we thought to try to make it as exciting a game as possible.’’

Tom has been kayaking for more than two years and trains about four times a week.

He is looking forward to the development squad events.

‘‘I like kayaking because it is really exciting, and there is a good community. ‘‘I really love it.’’ He also plays polo.

Tom and Ethan Knights will be training with Mr Hammer as well. Ethan has been kayaking recreationally for a long time with his father, but about four years competitively.

He trains five days a week for kayaking either before or after school, and one night a week for polo.

He enjoys the whitewater trips as well as training for slaloms. ‘‘I quite like how physically demanding it is and I have to push myself and work hard to get better.