Reflective Henshaw aims to learn from Worlds experience
Such is Charlotte Henshaw’s will to succeed, that sometimes, just taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture is the best thing to do.
A three-time Paralympic swimmer, and winner of 100m breaststroke silver and bronze at the 2012 and 2016 Games respectively, Henshaw opted to swap her goggles for a paddle late last year to take up the sport of para-canoeing.
At the time, she set herself the target of qualifying for the European Championships, something she achieved – and then some – with a silver in the 200m KL2 on her international canoeing debut in July.
The next step came in the form of this week’s World Championships in the Czech Republic where she qualified for the final of the 200m VL2 on Thursday.
Henshaw has a will to succeed ingrained in her from years of performing at the highest level and so coming home in eighth place was not, in her eyes, part of the plan.
She is also experienced enough to know however when not to beat yourself up too much – and at a Championships where Henshaw switched competing in a kayak to a va’a, she knows there are just as many positives to take from the experience, despite struggling with directional problems in the final.
“I have mixed feelings, I wanted to do well, I have an inbuilt wish to do well but it’s all part of the learning process,” she said.
“I’m fairly new to the sport in general and when I first came in to it I was paddling kayak but at the World Championships, there was the opportunity to compete in the va’a so I went for that.
“It’s a new skill set I’ve had to learn and it’s a very different skill to learn.
“I was feeling really good going into the final, I had a good start. Probably part of the reason I then struggled was that I was not used to paddling that powerfully.
“In the va’a, there is no rudder, I didn’t have the skills to correct the directional problems.
“It’s part of the learning process though. It’s a combination between laying the power down and steering correctly.
I can’t be too disappointed, I’ve changed sports and in less than a year I’m competing at a World Championships. I never expected to race in these Championships at the start of this year. Charlotte Henshaw
Henshaw’s European silver this summer came in the kayak, while she just missed out on one of the two spots on the British team for the World Championships in the boat.
A kayak is propelled with a double-blade paddle while a va’a has a second ‘pontoon’ called an ama as a support float while the boat is propelled by a single blade paddle.
Henshaw has been tasked with mastering both this year – no mean feat at all – and will be back in the va’a at the national regatta on the first weekend of September.
For now, she will watch her teammates compete for the rest of this week’s World Championships and simply being back among the international fold after switching sports is something she has relished.
“It’s been quite hard to readjust, it’s a transitional period. I do feel proud of what I’ve achieved but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword,” she added.
“I’ve moved across sports. I knew I was coming into a talented team and that was really exciting. I wanted to learn as much as I could from them.
“I thought this year would be more about a gradual transition but instead it’s been a very steep one.
“I thought I would just be training through this year not competing at this level.
“I feel very privileged and honoured to represent GB again. I live for competition, I love that feeling and these World Championships has given me another flavour of that and put me in a good place. Charlotte Henshaw