Friends, family remember Bryson City Olympian

Adam Clawson of Bryson City spent some of his best days on the water. At 8 years old, he tied a rope around the middle of an old inner tube to fashion a canoe, and with a borrowed paddle, learned to maneuver the rapids of the Nantahala River.

The Nantahala River is where he found the passion that would give him focus and drive him for the next 17 years of his life.

“He just excelled at it, and that changed the direction of his life at the time in such a good way. He was always a hyper kid that couldn’t focus in school, so having something he was so passionate about gave him focus, direction and meaning in his life,” said Maggie Parkes, Clawson’s mother. “I’ve always thought that my boys could do anything they set their minds to, and Adam really hadn’t found his niche until he came out here.”

Clawson knew from an early age he wanted to pursue canoeing competitively, and that’s what he worked toward from age 8 until he graduated from Swain High School in 1990. With the help of coaches and the whitewater community at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, he followed his dream.

Read: Back to the water: Friends, family remember Bryson City Olympian