Canoeing in several different cultures began as a means of transportation on long waterways or between land masses, although the origin of canoeing for sport is attributed to John MacGregor, the Scottish explorer. In 1866 he founded the Royal Canoe Club, where the first canoeing competition was held. In 1924, canoeing associations from several European countries founded the early forerunner of the International Canoeing Federation (ICF) and by 1936 canoeing had became an Olympic sport. The ICF is now a worldwide canoeing organization which oversees the Olympic disciplines of Sprint and Slalom, while recognizing various other competitive and non-competitive disciplines of canoeing.
Internationally, the use of the term “canoeing” refers to canoe/kayak and varied paddle sports, although in Canada we tend to make the distinction between canoe and kayak. A noteworthy distinction is that kayak competitors use a double-bladed paddle and remain seated when competing, while competitive canoers generally kneel on one leg and use a single-blade.
Canoeing is a racing sport and racing is simple: the first racer to reach the finish line wins. There are four distances of races: 200m, an explosive and exciting sprint; 500m, the glamorous premier Olympic distance; the technical 1000m for middle distance athletes; and the tactical, long distance race of 6000m. Athletes race in singles (called K-1, one-person kayak and C-1, one-person Canadian Canoe), doubles (K-2 and C-2) and fours (K-4 and C-4).