HITTING the water is a family pastime for Warrnambool's Johnson crew.
Medalling at national championships is an added bonus.
Dad Ben Johnson, 50, and two of his three children - Isaac, 24, and Alana, 22, - competed at the 2022 Canoe Marathon Australian Championships at Lake Coomera on the Gold Coast.
Ben collected two silver medals and Alana a gold, silver and bronze.
Ben, who is the minister at Warrnambool's Presbyterian church, said water sport was a way of life for his family.
Wife Louise is a recreational kayaker and youngster daughter Ellie, 19, is involved in surf life saving.
"Being out in the beauty of the environment is one (of the perks) and just training for it provides a break in life," Ben said.
"The community - the people you travel with, compete with and train with - means you're building great friendships but then there's the physicality of it as well.
"Marathon is quite a demanding sport - you are going pretty hard for a couple of hours and with the paddling, every 3.5 kilometres you have a portage where you jump out and run with the boat."
With the family now scattered across Australia - Alana studies medicine in Melbourne, Isaac has started as an audiologist in Launceston and Ellie is in South Australia studying - their shared interests keep them connected.
"We have kids in three states so often the regattas bring us together," Ben said.
Ben, who trains five times a week in summer and three times a week in winter, said Warrnambool had ideal training options too.
"We have two great rivers. The Hopkins is quite picturesque - you'd go a long way in our state to find a beautiful river like that," Ben said.
"The Merri is quite sheltered so even in a blow in winter you can still get out there and train. We do a lot of ocean paddling as well. We are all in the surf club too and it's a slightly different style of paddling, much shorter through the break and then there's ocean paddling down the coast."
Ben came second in the masters K1 shortcourse - a 3.5km course where competitors go "flat-out" for 15 minutes - and was also runner-up in the masters double 45 years-plus full marathon which is 22 kilometres.
Alana won her kayak shortcourse race, was second in the double and third in the single marathon.
"We haven't had an Australian championships since 2019 because of COVID," Ben said.
"The competing is the icing on the cake really. It really is about catching up with friends you hadn't seen for a while.
"But I think having the championships come back does give a little bit more life to your training."
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