Alison Herst

A member of the North Bay (Ontario) Canoe Club, Alison Herst escaped the winter cold to train in B.C. The dual coast training paid off when she became a world champion in 1995. Now a paddling mom, Herst says kayaking taught her resiliency, self-confidence and perseverance.

How did you get started in paddling?

At 11 years old, I joined the North Bay Canoe Club and found my passion in sport. My brother and good friend were already paddling and from the first day I spent there I was hooked.

Incredible athletes, such as, Barb and Nancy Olmstead soon became my role models. It wasn’t long that I wanted to compete in the Olympics and started to focus completely on that journey.

Why were you in BC?

I spent many winters training in Burnaby and Victoria. I fondly remember the early morning runs up that awful hill to the university!

What are your paddling career highlights and accomplishments?

  • Canadian Championships
  • 1992 Olympics (Barcelona): K4-500 6 th, K2-500m 5 th
  • 1993 World Championships (Copenhagan): K4-500 4 th, K2-500 4 th, K4-500 4 th
  • 1994 World Championships (Mexico City): K4-200 BRONZE, K2-500 4 th, K4-500 4 th,
  • 1995 World Championships (Duisburg): K4-200 GOLD, K2-500 5 th, K- 500m 4 th
  • 1996 Olympics (Atlanta): K4-500m 5 th

What makes kayaking a great sport?

  • I loved the combination of power and speed kayaking entailed. The feeling of your boat gliding across the water was an incredible feeling.
  • Feeling the power behind me in a K2 or K4
  • Kayaking allowed me to travel across the world and meet fantastic people
  • Most importantly, kayaking taught me resiliency, self-confidence and perseverance.

Alison Herst FamilyAre you still involved in the paddle sports?

My youngest daughter kayaks for the North Bay Canoe Club, I absolutely love watching her kayak or going in a k2 with her. I want her to learn the importance of teamwork and resiliency that sport can provide.

What impact did paddling in have on you?

  • Today, I look back at my athletic career and realize how important the tough training, lonely training camps and immense pressure to succeed molded and influenced who I am today.
  • My advice to young athletes is to never lose sight of your moral compass, some great advice I was given was “the higher you climb the mountain the harder the wind blows”.
  • You will need to stay grounded to your beliefs and integrity as you get pulled in many directions. I was lucky to be surrounded by incredible coaches and built strong friendships and very thankful for supporting family and friends who never missed a competition.

Paddle With Us


Canoe Kayak BC is the Provincial Sport Organization for the paddle sports and actively encourages and provides opportunities to enjoy, participate and excel in them. Members include competitive athletes, developing athletes, enthusiasts, coaches, officials, administrators and supporters of the sport. The association's mission enourages and promotes personal growth and success for our members through participation and performance in paddle sports.

Contact us