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Capricornus Quarterly : CQ Oct 2018
18 19 The Australian national rowing teams selected RGS’s elite-level Rowing Club as their training and development headquarters for three weeks in Term 3. Following their stay, Rachael McDonald discovered how they and RGS students bonded over their love of one of the oldest Olympic sports. Rowers all in the same boat RGS students were inspired by the visiting Australian rowers. Grace Sypher (Year 11) and Jack Koerner (Year 9) reflect on their experiences. Australian rower David Watts with (from left) Riley Godwin, Ben Werth, Marshall Leeson and Jack Koerner. interviewed, Bernard Savage, Performance Director, Rowing Australia and Angus Widdicombe, Australian Rower. What benefits did Rockhampton offer as a training base for the Australian team? Bernard: Rockhampton offered the Australian Rowing Team a stable and suitable environment, particularly when it came to the weather, in the lead up to the World Championships. Our crews are normally based in Canberra and Sydney so the warm weather was ideal for winter training before we arrived here in Europe. The high quality water was also a factor – especially the fact that you have a 2 kilometre buoyed course as well as the longer distances available on the river. I’d also say the relaxed env ironment around Rockhampton was a pull for us too. It’s convenient and ea sy to get around, the local community were incredibly welcoming and supportive and you combine that w ith excellent facilities of the RGS Boatshed, along with the support from RGS Rowing Head Coach John Smyth, it just made the whole experience great for both the athlete and staff group. What did the Australian Rowing team’s training programme involve? Angus: So the boys arrived in Rockhampton before the girls. We had two weeks on our own, with the women’s team joining us about a week before we left to travel to Italy for our camp over here. Our daily routine in the men’s programme is that we normally train five and half days a week. We’ll be on water normally twice a day, with the morning session longer than our lunchtime row. We then either do ergos or weights in the afternoon, depending on the programme, w ith Sundays normally off. The girls programme is a bit different, they may have one session a day, plus an erg and gym session, for example. I’d say as a younger athlete, you definitely shouldn’t be training like us as full time athletes, but listening to your coaches about what to be doing. You do all the hard training so that the racing can be fun. How did the Australian rowers view the interest in school rowing in this area? Angus: It was so great to see so many of the local school and club rowers come to meet with us and want to chat about what we do. It was cool to have the ‘meet and greet’ when we first arrived. It was great that each of us received a letter from a school rower w ishing us luck for the Worlds. It was also good to be able to wish them luck ahead of their regatta. It was awesome to see such dedication to our sport. Anyparticular areas of advice for RGS rowers? Angus: I’d say when you’re still at school, have fun with it. Always be open to trying something new, new drills, new techniques, new training methods, you can always improve. And make sure you push hard! Reaching the pinnacle of your chosen sport is a dream for school students across Australia. What are some factors that can make a difference in making the cut or just missing out? A ng us: I think discipline and resilience are key. Making sure you have a consistent training programme, and making good decisions, both on and off the water, that w ill have a positive effect on how you train and perform are factors that will put you in the best position. What advice do yu have for those who just miss out, as it can seem like the end of the world at that moment in time? Angus: Not everyone makes it onto a team at the first attempt, everyone’s journey is different, so you have to keep plugging away and be persistent. It’s important to be consistent with your training over a long period of time, set yourself small goals along the way so you can see your progress within the sport, which will give you confidence in your development. What did you learn from the visit? Grace: I loved seeing first hand the amount of training they endure each day as well as the massive team spirit they all have. It was amazing to see how they were all like one big family. I just really enjoyed being around the team as they created an awesome environment for themselves as well as RGS Rowing. It really cemented in my head what I would like to achieve as a rower. It really gave me the chance to see what it’s like and confirm that this is really what I would like to do. Jack: I gained a lot from this visit. I had the privilege of becoming friends with one of the Australian rowers, David Watts. He shared some good stories with me and gave me plenty of tips which are already helping in my rowing. Were there any particular words of advice the rowers gave you? Grace: I heard advice from many of the rowers, but in particular I remember hearing from Hamish Parry, the men’s lightweight sculler, that the moment you stop getting nervous before racing that’s when you know you need to stop. I could totally relate to this, as much as nerves have gotten to me I know that they are there for a reason and it’s because I care and love what I do and the moment I stop getting nervous is the moment I don’t care anymore. This is a saying that I have kept very close to me since as it reminds me that I am nervous for good reason. Jack: Some advice David gave me was to be determined and never give up. From that day on I have also tried my hardest. Tell me about the more memorable moments from the visit? Grace: There were so many.... It was so interesting to see them do their training and recovery and what they do each day. However, the one thing that stood out for me was Laura (Grace’s sister in Year 9) and I getting a photo with the Edmunds sisters, this was so special to me as I idolise both Maddie and Jacinta, and it means somuchtometobeabletorowwith my sister. So to be able to get a photo like that was an amazing experience. Jack: One moment was when David and I had a chat about rowing and about each other’s lives. I was very grateful to talk to him. What have you gleaned that will help you move forward with your rowing? Grace: I took so much out of the visit. At the end of the day you have to love what you do and every rower there loved what they did and who they did it with. They really showed me that you just need to enjoy the process and put in the hard work and you will reap the rewards. The whole team was so welcoming. They didn’t make you feel intimidated and they just acted like normal everyday people. As long as you put in the hard work you will enjoy what you do. Jack: After the visit I am more determined torowandIwanttotrymybestand become one of the best coxes at The Rockhampton Grammar School.” World-class learning Rowing Head Coach Mr John Smyth welcomed the “incredible” opportunity the national rowing team residence was for Rockhampton Grammar students. Mr Smyth said the RGS Rowers witnessed the dedication and effort it takes to compete at the highest level of our sport. “The highlight was watching our young rowers create connections with the best rowers in the country, and in some cases the world,’’ Mr Smyth said. Most members on the national team started in programmes similar to RGS Rowing, according to Mr Smyth. “It was great to hear them share stories about falling in or not making the top team for a few years.” Rowing, Mr Smyth explains, is like most sports,in that it is about resilience and being persistent with your goals. “I think our rowers learned some valuable lessons through their conversations.” Mr Smyth said the city of Rockhampton has one of the best rowing venues in the country and that the national team and coaching staff were impressed by RGS facilities, the hospitality of the School, the rowing community and the wider Rockhampton community. “We hope to see them back in 2020.” RGS and Australian women’s team rowers combine forces during a Rowing Australia training camp in Rockhampton. Pictured from left to right: Karis Edwards (Year 12), Claire Sherry (Year 11), Lucy Stephan, Rosemary Popa, Laura Sypher (Year 9), Sarah Hawe, Molly Goodman and Grace Sypher (Year 11).
CQ July 2018