04:30AM, Friday 25 April 2014
A PE teacher from a Windsor school said she is 'overwhelmed' after becoming the first woman to complete an international race in a high kneel canoe.
Samantha Rippington, of Brigidine School in Kings Road, took part in the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race from Good Friday to Bank Holiday Monday, alongside 650 canoeists.
Completing the 125-mile stretch in a time of 24 hours and 19 minutes, she has become the first female high canoeist, and third high canoeist overall, to achieve the feat.
The 29-year-old said: "I am very overwhelmed at the moment. It was a rollercoaster over the four days and it has without a doubt been the most emotional four days of my life.
"I hope it will inspire more women to get involved in canoeing and I hope it will lead to more people taking up the sport."
Samantha, who has been teaching at Brigidine for four years, has completed the race twice in a kayak, but it was her first time in a high kneel canoe, which is considered one of the toughest paddling disciplines due to the canoeist kneeling rather than sitting.
The Wokingham Canoe Club member said she found it a surreal experience to pass her home - a canal boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal outside Reading - during the race.
She explained: "I took up the canoeing at the age of 12 after trying the sport as a Scout.
"The freedom of being in the water is magical and that feeling of being free when you're paddling along. I also enjoy seeing all the wildlife on my travels."
Samantha has also raised £274, thanks to her pupils' sponsorship, and will be donating the money to CLIC Sargent, a children's cancer charity, and the Born Free foundation.
Her next challenge is to become the first woman to complete the Sella Descent canoe race in a high kneel canoe in October.
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