Emily cartwheeling during one of her heats. Photo: Clay Wright

Emily cartwheeling during one of her ones. Photo: Clay Wright

Most mothers take it easy for a while after giving birth; having a child is pretty labor intensive after all. However, Emily Jackson is a little different. The 2009 World Freestyle champion got back in the boat a mere month after giving birth to her first child and won the U.S. National Freestyle Championship in Hartford, Tenn. last weekend.

"Winning felt great, mainly because I was just happy to be boating," said Jackson. Getting “back” in the boat may be a misnomer as Jackson had been competing during the entirety of her pregnancy. At seven months pregnant, she competed at the U.S. Freestyle team trials just missing a spot on the World Freestyle Championship team. She rebounded two months later though, winning the Womens freestyle event and a $4,000 cash prize at the Payette River Games the end of June. Incredibly, she was nine months pregnant.

Jackson had kept the last month pretty low key in terms of training. "I only got in my boat four times since having Tucker," Jackson said. According to team member Clay Wright, who placed second in the squirt boat division, during the U.S. Championships Jackson stuck to moves and combos she knows well. The keep-it-simple approach was enough to claim the title from former freestyle champion Haley Mills, who placed third this year.

"I was stoked to see Emily win so soon after getting back in her boat," said brother Dane Jackson, who won the U.S. National Freestyle Championship for both Men's K-1 and OC-1. "I knew she could win, and so it’s a nice thing to see she can be a mother to Tucker and still win competitions."

It was a bit of a juggling game as Emily and her husband, three-time Canadian National Champion Nick Troutman, passed baby Tucker back and forth during the Championships. As a Canadian, Troutman was not eligible to compete in the U.S. Championships, but did serve as a judge for the Men’s Pro division.

Though she's stoked on the win, Jackson has found other things on which to now focus her time and attention instead of full-on competition. "It still means the same to me, my personality hasn’t changed, only now I have more responsibility to focus on when I am not in the water. Even if caring for Tucker gets in the way of boating some days, I won’t complain because spending time with him makes me feel like a winner every time!"