Mariann Saethern in a drysuit and a paddlesport helmet kayaks down the waterfall. | sweet protection

Mariann Sæther

"I love kayaking in most of its forms, and that is why I also do canoe slalom along with whitewater kayaking. I have been a part of the Sweet Protection family since 1999 where I got the first prototype helmet!”

- Mariann Sæther

Mariann started whitewater kayaking in 1995 and loved it from the first strokes she took in the Sjoa river, Norway. Since then she has travelled the world for two decades, running rivers in remote corners such as Tibet and southern Patagonia, leading first descents on most continents and surfing big waves in Quebec and Uganda.

Mariann Saethern kayaks down the waterfall in a drysuit and a paddlesport helmet from Sweet Protection. Mariann Saethern in a paddlesport helmet from Sweet Protection.

"The Sweet Strutter and Rocker combo makes me feel safe and cool every day on the water! I choose the Strutter for the easy going days on the water, and the Rocker when we go in search of more serious whitewater."

Random funfact?

I used to do synchronized swimming and baton twirling in a marching band as a youngster!

What are your favorite Sweet Protection products and why?

Sweet Strutter and the Rocker – the combo makes me feel safe and cool every day on the water! I choose the Strutter for the easy going days on the water, and the Rocker when we go in search of more serious whitewater.

What drives you?

To fill my life with as much fun as possible, as often as possible! I also have a drive for continuing a purposeful journey all the way through life. It has always been important to me to continue the search for happiness and purpose in life as I grow older – and I find it rather funny every time somebody asks me when I will stop kayaking, as the answer is obvious: When it is not fun anymore, so that probably means never!

I have spent 25 years on the river so far, and plan on spending at least another 25 years out there. I like to share my journey with others in form of public talks and speeches, or through informal conversations around campfires, where my main message is that the journey changes, but it doesn’t stop just because I get older. Even if I run less and less class 5, I by no means stop challenging myself on the water.

In my twenties I globetrotted with my kayak and pushed the limits on the water non-stop, in my 30s I let other parts of life take up a bit more space, such as education, work and family, and now in my 40s the journey is about sharing the water with my little family, still pushing my own limits on the perfect days, but also refining all the reasons why I started kayaking in the first place: They joy of being outside in pure nature, sharing river journeys with friends, and pushing my limits when it feels like the right thing to do, but also stepping back for whatever reason without regret nor self-criticism.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve been part of?

It is hard to pick one, but in my young years what stands out is the first descent in 2006 of Rio Bravo in southern Patagonia, an epic journey with great friends, involving float planes, maps from 1956 and amazingly great whitewater – we found and established a classic.

In later years we had a high-water trip to Russia´s Altai region, and the Mazhoy gorge at high water on the Chuya river still resonates with me. To take part of, and win the World Championship title at the North Fork Championships in Banks, Idaho in 2019 was also really cool – it is an epic event with an even more epic river section to back up the title.

What animal would you be and why?

I would love to be a falcon, hawk or eagle and soar the sky! As it is I once in a while I get my paraglider up in the air, but I am definitely not a master of the air.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

There could be a hole behind every wave so paddle accordingly!

What book has made an impact on you?

I recently read “Mengele Zoo” from Gert Nygårdshaug, and a lot in this book and the rest in the series resonated with me. It made me look up and into our future and ponder some important questions about where we are heading. And no, I did not find answers, but sometimes the most important thing to do is to ask the questions.

Favorite music to get you fired up?

Linkin Park

Where on social media can we follow you?

I'm most active on Instagram and Facebook