Canoeing’s ‘Pops’ Still Makes Waves

Jamie McEwan looks too young to be such an old legend. Particularly when he is racing his canoe through the thundering froth of the Potomac River, just below Great Falls.

“I can still make the gates,” said McEwan, a Silver Spring native who at 19 won a bronze medal in the 1972 Munich Olympics that inspired a generation of Washington-area paddlers to become the best whitewater racers in the world.

Last weekend, old man McEwan, now a venerable 31, returned to the Potomac for the annual S-Turn races. Some of the competitors jokingly called him “Pops.” All of them accorded McEwan credit for making Washington an international mecca for medal-winning paddlers.

“It’s all his fault,” said Cathy Hearn, a three-time world kayaking champion from Garret Park. “Watching him in 1972 is what made me decide I would train, no question about it.”

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