Anna Levesque portrait by Blake Gordon.

Anna Levesque portrait by Blake Gordon.

By Kate Stepan

If you’ve ever paddled with your girlfriend or gal pal on the river, you know that women approach kayaking differently than men. No one knows this better than Anna Levesque, the 34-year-old founder of Girls at Play. A five-time member of the Canadian freestyle team, Levesque (LUH-veck) remembers feeling “very alone” when first paddling hard rapids with the guys. She made her first women’s instructional video in 2003. Since then, Levesque, who also teaches yoga and studies meditation, has helped countless chick boaters build confidence through kayaking. “I am very open with the fact that I have fear, and keeping it together mentally is a challenge for me,” says Levesque, also an instructor at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. “My whole mission is to make it okay to enjoy kayaking without showing off or being super hard-core.”

This story first appeared in the March 2009 issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine. Read more about Anna Levesque, including Kate Stepan’s Made in Mexico feature about a paddling girls trip led by the famous instructor.

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