Strong bond key to Saskatoon paddlers' success

Saskatoon's Jarret Kenke and Mykel Kowaluk, fresh off of representing Canada at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, attended the Canadian Sprint Canoe and Kayak Championships this week, hosted in Regina Sask.

Together, Kenke and Kowaluk have collected medals from competitions in Canada and abroad

Paddlers graced the waters of Wascana Lake through the last week of August, as they competed for medals in various events at the 2019 Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships in Regina. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Wascana Lake has been busy all week, as athletes from across Canada descended on Regina for the Canadian Sprint Canoe and Kayak Championships.

Among them were Saskatoon's own Jarret Kenke and Mykel Kowaluk, fresh off of representing Canada at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. 

Paddlers push hard during the start of races at the Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships on Saturday. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Both Kenke and Kowaluk left previous athletic pursuits to follow their kayaking dreams. Together — and separately — they've collected gold, silver and bronze medals at events in Canada and around the world.

Kowaluk used to play hockey in Saskatoon, and when he found his interest in that sport was waning he turned to paddling. 

Attendance was free, so canoeists and kayakers races provided some entertainment for Regina residents who visited Wascana Lake during the last week of August. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Kenke used to be a competitive swimmer but he "tailed off" on that sport. He found he still loved water and at 11 or 12 he got into canoeing and kayaking. 

They found each other through training and have since collected a boatload of medals together. 

"There's a certain honesty between us," Kenke told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend. "You don't always get that between your partner and yourself."

Hundreds of athelets from around Canada participated in the 2019 Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships, hosted in Regina Sask. during the last week of August. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Kenke said the pair are always vocal about how they're feeling, or how their boat is feeling and they are committed to fixing anything that doesn't feel just right. He said the pair, from a young age, have sought perfection together. 

"We can spend three quarters of the year not in the same boat together and all of a sudden hop in and within one or two days we're back where we were the previous year," Kenke said. 

Some of Canada's best paddlers participated in a variety of events in a variety of watercraft, including canoes of teams of two or four. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

The pair's bond has grown stronger from their relationship on dry land, too. When they were in Florida for training programs, they spent three and a half months as roommates.

"When we were young we were spending more time together than we were with our parents," Kowaluk said. "You just kind of grow into it."

Racers competed in 200 metre, 500 metre, 1000 metre, and 6000 metre events at the Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

According to unofficial results posted on Friday, the pair placed third in their 500 metre race while their club's team of four placed fourth in the 200 metre race.


Bryan Eneas

Reporter, Indigenous Storytelling

Bryan Eneas is a journalist from the Penticton Indian Band currently based in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he reported in central and northern Saskatchewan.

With files from Saskatchewan Weekend