Developing New Whitewater Canoe/Kayak Slalom Team, Future Olympians is Zebracki’s Plan
OKLAHOMA CITY (July 11, 2023) – Creating future Olympians is the philosophy driving Coach Janusz Zebracki as he moves to Oklahoma City to create a new competitive kayaking program at RIVERSPORT in the Boathouse District. But his first job is introducing kids to the sport.
“Oklahoma City is poised to become one of the great centers for paddlesports in America,” RIVERSPORT executive director Mike Knopp said. “We have been selected to host multiple international kayaking events including a World Championship in 2026. We believe Coach Zebracki can build a program that gets kids on the water now and lays a foundation for the future.”
A 20-year coaching veteran in the sport of canoe/kayak in Poland, Zebracki has coached at all levels of the sport from kids just getting on the water to Olympians competing at the Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012) Olympic Games.
“We introduce children to the water in a safe and entertaining way,” Zebracki said. “Once they have paddling fundamentals down, then we start teaching them about sprint racing on flatwater. Some kids will naturally also want to try whitewater, so we can then teach them the basic skills to get on the whitewater course. We’ll eventually have racing teams in both flatwater sprint and whitewater slalom, so kids can choose the discipline they prefer.”
The program begins this summer with camps for children ages 8-12 who will learn kayaking skills plus water safety during week-long day camps. Designed to introduce kids to a variety of paddle sports, the camps include stand -up paddle boarding, recreational kayaking, and Olympic canoe/kayak sprint and slalom, plus whitewater kayaking, rafting and tubing.
“Youth who really enjoy the experience can join our program starting in August,” Zebracki said. “We’ll continue working with the kids as part of our RIVERSPORT Juniors Canoe/Kayak Team with racing opportunities next spring.”
“We are introducing children to the water in a safe and entertaining way. Students may not know which discipline they would like to pursue, so we want them to try everything” Zebracki said. “We have a world-class river for flatwater paddling and a world-class whitewater kayaking facility right in the heart of Oklahoma City, and there is no better place for young kayakers to train.”
A native of Krakow, Poland, Zebracki has been a coach in the Olympic sport of Canoe Slalom in Poland for over 20 years, first serving as the Junior Head Coach, U-23 Head Coach and later the Head Coach of the Senior Canoe Slalom Olympic teams. Zebracki has coached the Poland Senior Team at three Olympic Games and numerous World Championships. Before becoming a coach, Zebracki was a member of the Polish National Team in Canoe Slalom.
For more information on the Junior Canoe/Kayak Team, visit: https://www.riversportokc.org/get-involved/coached- teams/canoe-kayak-teams/junior-ck/