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22-year-old sports student from Bonn: Ole Schwarz is one of the best stand-up paddle boarder in Germany

22-year-old sports student from Bonn : Ole Schwarz is one of the best stand-up paddle boarder in Germany

Stand-up paddling is very trendy: 22-year-old Ole Schwarz from Bonn gets on his board almost daily and trains on the Rhine. He is one of the best stand-up paddle boarder in Germany and has already won many prizes.

On the terrace of the Blau-Weiss Bonn water sports club on the banks of the Graurheindorf stand homemade furniture made from wooden pallets, palm leaves rustling in the wind. The water of the Rhine shimmers almost turquoise this afternoon as Ole Schwarz climbs onto his stand-up paddle board. With quick movements he dips the long paddle into the water. Within seconds, he glides several meters from the bank upstream. He balances the turbulence of the current light-footedly on the board.

The man from Bonn comes from a water sports family and is one of the best stand-up paddle boarder in Germany. In 2015 and 2018 he won the German championship in the discipline "Technical Race" - a slalom race through waves. In 2017 he became "Fastest Paddler on Earth" at Lost Mills on Lake Brombach in Franconia. In canoeing he is U23 Vice European Champion, with the team even European Champions.

Almost every day he is on the water - either with the SUP board or with the canoe. His training schedule includes either short sprints or calmer long distances. For sprint units and test times he prefers to paddle on the other side of the Rhine towards Mondorf harbour. There constant conditions prevail. He covers the longer distances on the Rhine. More than ten years ago, he came to stand-up paddling (SUP) at a windsurfing course in Rostock. Because there was no wind, he simply switched to one of the SUP boards - and took a liking to the new means of transport.

Stand-up paddlers like Schwarz have long since been seen not only on holiday in front of exotic beaches, but also on the local rivers and lakes. "A sport has arrived in the population when sports equipment is available at discount stores," says the 22-year-old sports student. For a start, such beginner boards are sufficient. Those who fall for the sport quickly acquire two, three or more boards. Schwarz rides two competition boards per season - a narrower one for flat water and one for wavy terrain. In windy conditions, a leash is also compulsory for competitions - Schwarz also recommends the safety line he has attached to his ankle for the Rhine, which prevents the board from drifting. "You should have respect for the Rhine," he advises. And know its pitfalls. For example, that the current is much stronger in the middle than near the shore.

According to the German Canoeing Association (DKV), paddle boarding is basically allowed on "all flowing waters in Germany". Exceptions may apply to reservoirs and water areas in parks. On inland waterways, such as the Rhine, water sports enthusiasts must not disturb shipping traffic. In nature reserves, paddlers should also know and follow the respective regulations.

This trend sport is becoming increasingly popular, not only as a leisure activity and whole body training, but also in the competition sector. Two world associations claim stand-up paddling for themselves: canoeists and surfers. The dispute continues right up to the International Court of Justice for Sport in Lausanne. A decision is still pending. The main issues are the admission to the Olympics and financial support. At the 2021 Games in Tokyo, surfing will be part of the programme for the first time. Schwarz could imagine that SUP will also be an Olympic event for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Because in the USA, especially in California, the sport is part of everyday life. "It has become as established there as jogging," says Schwarz.

In Germany, however, the German Surfing Association (DWV), the German Canoeing Association and the German Stand Up Paddle Association (GSUPA) are working together: The German championships on Fehmarn at the end of August with long distance and the "Technical Race" are organised by DWV, the inland water championships in September by DKV. Nevertheless, all three act as joint organisers of the competitions. The associations also want to cooperate in training and competition planning.

There is one race in Schwarz's young career that is particularly memorable: The long-distance race on the Seine in Paris. Early in the morning at 7 a.m., around 700 paddlers - including the elite of SUP sports - travel across the French capital, past the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Schwarz made it to the finish line among the top ten.

In mid-August, the 22-year-old plans to take part in a race in Belgium, which would be the first after the Corona break. The German championships in canoeing are scheduled for him in September, the U23 European Championships are to take place in November. "To get ahead, the amount of training is crucial," he explains. But something else is pulling him onto the water. "You have your rest on the board."

(Original text: Sabrina Bauer, Translation: Mareike Graepel)