Interview with American kayaker Ryan Dolan

Claim to fame:

National Kayak Team Member from Hawaii.

2011 Pan American Games Bronze Medalist.


1.What is it that first attracted you to kayaking?

I was in highschool and had already been doing lots of outrigger canoe paddling in 6 mans and 1 person boats and my older brother Pat was a US National Team Member already so lots of people were encouraging me to do it. My good friend Stuart Gassner really helped me get going and made it fun. Initially it was just something to try and help cross train for Outrigger but then slowly it became about beating the guy who was faster or better and then I realized I really enjoyed it and got introduced to the Hawaii Canoe and Kayak Team and sprint kayaks in 2008. I decided I wanted to really persue the sport and try to make the Olympic Team.

2.Is there anything thing in particular you love about it?

I love being on the water and making a boat move through the connection of your body and muscles. I also really enjoyed the speed and smoothness the boats had. It’s a very addicting sport that made me and keeps making me obsessed to get better and faster.


3.Do you have any other hobbies?

Growing up in Hawaii I also have loved watersports. I love to fish when I have time, but it really comes down to just paddling. If I am not kayaking I enjoy going back to my roots of Outrigger canoe paddling and surfski paddling in the ocean. Paddling in the ocean can make me really relaxed and forget everything else. I am also into learning about and building websites. It’s a new hobby that I am also pretty obsessed at getting better.


4. If, say you, fail to qualify for something or don’t perform as well as you hoped in a race. How do you pick yourself up after the disappointment?

I always try to whatever I can to leave everything on the water so that way if I am not happy with the result I know I did all I could. I get dissapointed but its those moments that help me train better for the future or a goal I have. Sometimes its hard in kayaking just because it’s a sport that takes quite a bit of time and commitment to get what your looking for but you always have to keep that in mind and focus on small goals along the path to bigger goals.


5. What are your personal aspirations in and for the sport?

I am aiming for this coming years 2013 U-23 World Championships in August first of all and slowy building towards 2016. A 4 year cycle is so long yet so quick at the same time. The main goal is to make improvments along the cycle and hopefully be in Rio in 2016.

6. What does your weekly training schedule involve?

During the training season I usually paddle 6 days a week with paddles 2 times a day usually with 3-4 weight sessions mixed in there. Right now I am training for the Molokai Hoe which is a 42 miles race so training has been a little different for that but also because it’s the offseason and right now I am trying to build up a very big base of miles for later this season.


7.How many races a year do you participate in?

I will usually do 3 major kayaking competitions a year including world cups, worldchampionships and our team selection races. Before my racing season starts I try to make an effort to race 4-5 ocean races in Hawaii which are anywhere from 8-15 miles for cross training and a change of scenery from the flatwater.


8.What kind of sacrifices did you have to make in order to make it as a professional athlete?

Well, I wouldn’t consider my self a pro athlete since I don’t make money to paddle and I live at home with my parents and still attend University. But as a full time amature athlete it takes a lot of time and commitment as well as money to train and race. I think its really more about how well your support team supports you, its not a single effort. My family, sponsors and even community are very supportive and it goes a really long way.


9. How do you ensure training does not become monotonous?

“Keeping the eyes on the prize”. I love paddling and for some crazy reason I love training too so I always enjoy it but when it gets hard having people there with you helps or traveling somewhere new to train keeps things fresh and new.


10.What is the criteria you have to meet in order to qualify for the Olympics in kayaking?

See ICF website for full details but you must win the US spots but also the team must have qualified a start for the Olympics.


11. Did you get to go to the Olympics?

No unfortunately I missed out on the Olympic Team by 8/100s of a second to my team mate.


12. When your program lost its funding from the Olympic Committee, you began fundraising efforts. How are they going so far and what can people do to help?

We did a ton of fundraising efforts and like I said above none of it would be possible without family, my sponsors and the paddling community of Hawaii. Everyone stepped up and backed my dream as if it was their as well. People can make a donation to Hawaii Canoe And Kayak Team which is non profit club.

13.Advice for anyone who wants to follow your lead into professional athleticism?

Doing what you love to do is great and so rewarding but it doesn’t come without hard work and dissapointment at times. Greet failure as a way to success and always look at the bigger situation before jumping towards something too quickly.


14.How does it feel to represent your country in events?

It’s a really big honor, and makes me feel proud to be a part of such a big team of people.


Follow Ryan through his website or via Twitter @RyanDolanKayak


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s