Today’s guest, Zsolt Szadovszki started paddling at the young age of 7 years old in Budapest Hungary, in the heart  of a country that takes it’s paddling very serious.   Zsolt was a semi-pro at the age of 14 and continued accelerating up the ranks to the national team at age 17.   Unfortunately the team he had to beat to make it to the olympics was the best in the world and he just missed his shot at olympic competition.
Burned out from 10 years of highly stressful competitive sprint kayaking, Zsolt decided it was time for something new and left Hungary to travel and visit family in Chicago.   From there he landed in San Francisco where he was first intrigued by open water paddling watching OC-6 paddlers.   It wasn’t long before he laid eyes on his first surf ski and immediately knew that was something he had to experience.    Zsolt connected with Carter Johnson and the rest is history.   Zsolt eventually moved to Hawaii where he has been coaching paddling, working with Epic Kayaks, and continually being humbled by the power, energy, and complexity of the big ocean.
In this episode Zsolt and I go deep on a wide range of topics including the following:
  • Life in Hawaii
  • Getting into the right mental state to harvest the energy of the ocean
  • Growing up in Hungary starting at age 7, semi-pro at age 14 and  on the national team at 17 with a salary, and just missing his shot at the olympics
  • Zsolt’s decision at age 24 to quit paddling and go travel
  • While living in San Francisco Zsolt saw  an OC-6 crew, and  chased them down
  • Zsolt soon got connected with the legendary, late,  Mike Shea as well as Carter Johnson
  • Zsolt’s first molokai (the longest molokai in history )
  • The importance of navigation in both open ocean racing and river racing
  • Viewing the ocean as a big river
  • The importance of local knowledge and understanding the complexities of wave patterns and currents
  • The power of presence to achieve both peak performance and happiness
  • Deciding between going fast or going long on a run
  • Paddling a tandem – maximizing momentum
  • Why it is better to be a diesel than a sports car
  • Oscar’s style of big ocean paddling,  steady and smooth,  3 gears, mostly 2
  • The difference between waves –  on a bay with 2-4 foot, versus big open ocean with big ground swells
  • Coaching a junior national team
  • Hit it and quit it .. the importance of recovery both in flat water and open ocean paddling and how Zsolt manages to still finish 1000 meters just 5 seconds off his peak times of 20 years ago
  • Establishing a kids paddling program including kayak/surfski, SUP, prone
  • What to focus on when training in a K1 to improve your overall stroke
  • How to understand what is happening in your stroke based on the movement of the bow in a K1
  • Eric Goodman Foundation Training for building the posterior chain and getting more hamstring flexibility
  • 30 seconds on / 30 seconds off to embed changes
  • Finding the right technique for your body type.  Zsolt’s recommendation to me was to watch Knut Hollman who at 6’5”  was an incredible Norwegian sprinter, often considered the perfect technician
If you have the fortune to find yourself in Hawaii and want to connect with Zsolt for some top notch private coaching,  check him out at :