Women in Coaching 2019: Lynwen Birch

by Canoe Kayak Canada / Lynwen Birch

In 2019, Canoe Kayak Canada invited interested female coaching candidates to apply for a coach mentorship opportunity with CKC’s high performance coaches. The objective of this program was to support the advancement of women canoe kayak coaches. In addition this program also aimed to support the development of the selected coaches’ leadership and technical skills while working closely alongside National Team support staff.

Discover our candidates in this series of articles on Women In Coaching 2019 presented by Canoe Kayak Canada, in association with the Coaching Association of Canada.

Men’s canoe training on the canal in Florida.
Photo: Lynwen Birch

Lynwen Birch was selected to work alongside Mark Granger to support athletes at the Next Gen National Team Daily Training Environment located in Melbourne, Florida. She also had the opportunity to observe Senior National Team Coaching staff in the training environment while receiving NCCP professional development points for participating in this program.

Hello. I am Lynwen Birch from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have been a high performance athlete in varied paddle disciplines in both Canada and Australia. Presently, as a coach, my goals are to train athletes to national team level, and assist young Canadians in increasing their capacities of authenticity and accountability, resilience, and well-being of mind and body.
My coaching philosophy embraces the practice of attention and intention, to attain goals while minimising the impact of stress and unpredictability (think: relaxed focus and focused relaxation). With a stronger sense of awareness and purpose, individuals can form reliable mechanisms for improved performance, and achieve greater balance between ‘training and not training’, and ‘action and stillness’. 
To be effective as a coach, I seek to create sound relationships with members of the paddling community, and work alongside mentor coaches and coach peers so I may continue learning new ways of approaching the old. I also desire to maintain a healthy relationship with myself as a female coach, so I may inspire other women to become involved in sport and coaching, and be a visible role model in our sport of canoe kayak. 

Training session with Men’s Canoe Coach, Andreas Dittmer.
Photo: Lynwen Birch

Canoe Kayak Canada: Why did you want to take part in the 2019 CKC Women in Coaching program?

Lynwen Birch: As I’ve been a Canadian coach living and coaching overseas for some time, it is important to me to find ways of seeing the current bigger picture for canoe kayak in Canada. I have a keen interest in the participation and retention of women in the sport, in particular as athletes and coaches. This programme enables me as to understand what is necessary for progression into the national level teams, so I may promote the  movement of women forward into higher level athlete and coaching pathways.

Paracanoe athlete Erica Scarff working on some paddling technique.
Photo: Lynwen Birch

CKC: How will you benefit from this program?

LB: I believe I will be more rigorous in my coaching as far as efficiently combining baselines of physical and technical performance for athletes in my care. Also, I feel I will be more practical in terms of programme planning, so that athletes are well-prepared to tackle their future goals and successes, and can be in the mix at international standards of performance.

Women’s Kayak team working on their sprints.
Photo: Lynwen Birch

CKC: What was your favourite moment during your participation in this program?

LB: It was rewarding to accompany each of the National Team and Next Generation coaches in their sessions. This opened the window even more onto the complexities of preparing a national team for competition, in particular for upcoming Olympic qualification. I appreciated learning about their approaches towards how to improve performance. The session I spent with Marc Creamer and Erica Scarff was a highlight, as a new adaptation to Erica’s boat setup was tested, and the improvement was immediately clear.  

Calm day on the water for the Men’s Kayak team.
Photo: Lynwen Birch
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