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Future Olympian Walks the Halls of Greater Fort Erie Secondary School

Submitted By – Natalie Woehl, Allie Kucman, and Mackenzie Arts (Members of the GFESS Journalism Team), April 11, 2024, VOL. 5 ISSUE 16

Many people set goals to reach great heights by doing what they love. For many dreamers, those aspirations are simply that, dreams. But for Fort Erie local, Isaac Zimmerman, those dreams may be closer than he thinks.

Through immense physical and mental preparation, the young athlete has been named in RBC’s Training Ground search for future Olympians for white-water kayaking and canoeing. Zimmerman demonstrates incredible talent and is an example of hard work and determination to many Fort Erie youth.

Family has always been a pillar for the young athlete, in fact, it was alongside family that his incredible journey began. At the early age of 10, Zimmerman experienced a family trip where he had the chance to explore kayaking as a new hobby with his younger sister Paige. From there, the connections made with their instructor led the siblings to explore their shared passion for the sport.

He expresses overwhelming thanks to his parents for their sacrifices of time, money, and effort stating his parents have supported him “whether it’s here at home setting up gates in the creek or ponds, driving to Ottawa or helping book accommodations and logistics.” He admits that he would not be where he is today without his family.

Through the years, Zimmerman has made friends in all corners of the world, forming friendships and connections to further his professional career. He has met some incredible Canadian athletes along his journey and is thankful for opportunities to meet notorious athletes and fellow kayakers. He mentions how meeting new people and creating new friendships is one of his favourite things about his sport.

Isaac Zimmerman has had an impressive career thus far and is continuing to improve every day. His biggest accomplishment to date was at the Pan American championships in Rio, where he placed first in Jr. Kayaking and second in Jr. Canoeing.

Zimmerman pointed out that training has been limited due to his location. Ottawa is the closest training he can receive on white water, which results in a lot of traveling. However, when he is not in the rapids of Ottawa or off at competitions and training camps, he can be found on Black Creek here in Fort Erie and Niagara Falls.

As many student-athletes can relate, it has been a journey for Zimmerman to navigate balancing school, his sport, and his social life. When asked how he manages, he states “I’ve been able to manage it well, doing harder subjects in fall, easier and online during spring to focus on paddling.” He is extremely grateful for his school where the staff can understand and accommodate his unique situation.

Isaac Zimmerman’s hard work and constant dedication to kayaking and canoeing allow him to have big dreams. He trains hard year-round to prepare for the upcoming Canadian Team Trials in Valleyfield, Quebec, which will be held this upcoming May. His goal is to qualify in the Quebec races to compete at Jr. World’s in July. Currently, Zimmerman canoes on the senior team and kayaks on the junior team, but he expresses hope that “this will take [him] to the Senior National kayak team, as this would open up a whole new circuit” to be on the senior team for both sports.

As he trains consistently and puts long, physically demanding, hours into preparing for races, he sets his mind on future aspirations. Zimmerman aims to attend the 2027 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, which will be his first time competing in this international sports event. He also aspires to compete in the 2028 Summer Olympic Games which will be held in Los Angeles. He works towards these goals with determination, drive, and a positive attitude.

Zimmerman remarks that “paddling around new rivers, the travel, meeting new people and paddlers, the challenge, the training, the physical aspects, and technical aspects to it” all drive his desire to keep competing and training. He has a love for paddling and explains why he enjoys it as he says, “I’m pretty competitive, it comes back to just really enjoying paddling, if I’m not on the water for a couple of days I’ll miss it.”

His devotion to the sport of kayaking and canoeing is inspiring to young athletes as it is evident through Zimmerman’s life that practice and hard work will pay off. As a school community, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School is proud to say we have a future Olympian walking our halls and are excited to follow Isaac Zimmerman through his paddling career.

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