A much loved paddling discipline, SUP provides individuals with a unique format in which to engage with the sport.

Providing opportunities to paddle both recreationally and competitively, SUP attracts a wide cross-section of the Australian community to the water and to the sport of paddling.

The decision to pick up a paddle was a spontaneous one for Pollyanna Darling, who after three separate spinal injuries, was determined to combat her chronic pain.

“Back in 2020 I had this random idea that I would join the local SUP Club,” said Darling.

“I’d only been on a board maybe twice in my whole life before that but had loved it both times, so I ended up joining and they lent me a paddle, a board and everything else I needed to get started.

“I’ve had three separate injuries all relating to my spine since 2012 and was very sore when I first joined, but I found the community to be incredibly supportive from the very beginning. 

“I had to take things at my own pace at first, but eventually over time I built up core strength and the muscles in my back which supported my injured parts. I found SUP paddling to be incredibly beneficial for not just my injuries but my confidence as well, and the club members couldn’t have been more encouraging,” she said.

Having paddled consistently for more than four years now, Darling could not be a bigger advocate for the SUP community.

“The best thing about SUP is one 100 percent the people – everyone is so encouraging and adventurous,” said Darling.

“On Saturday at the social sessions I go to we’re getting between 30-40 people which is just fantastic, it’s great to see so many people enjoying SUP paddling.”

Pollyanna is an incredible advocate for the sport of SUP more generally, having experienced first hand the positive impact it can have on one’s physical and mental health.

“SUP has completely changed my life – I was a person who was injured and in chronic pain and now I’m not. That’s been a combination of working on my own limitations and boundaries and just being incredibly encouraged by coaches and members alike,” said Darling.

“I love that if I want to, I can paddle three or four kilometres offshore without a motor and just enjoy being a tiny speck in the vastness. I had the most amazing whale encounter a few months ago which was just so special.

“It’s also so good for your whole body, it works everything. It can be quite vigorous or quite gentle, but even if you’re being gentle you’re working every muscle in your body and you feel stronger really quite quickly – it’s great for balance and for strength.”

To find out more about Pollyanna Darling’s journey, click here.