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Australian Rowing Championships

Over the last week, from 27 March through to 2 April, Norwood International High School top rowers made their way to the 2023 Australian Rowing Championships at Champion Lakes, Perth, WA. Our representatives led by Head Coach and ex-Olympian Brenton Terrell consisted of Oliver (yr 11), Angelica (yr 11), Igor (yr 12), and Bianca (yr 11), supported by each rower’s family.

Experiencing a National Championship Regatta is a highlight of a rower’s high school journey. It is a step up in all regards, with an intense racing schedule and competition on a level beyond that of state and school regattas. Angelica looks back on the different viewpoints during the regatta,

“From a spectator’s view whether it be cheering on rowers to strive for that big smile on their face and the rewarding feeling as they cross the line, to the tight racing and amazing photo finishes. From a rower’s view, once you cross that line, you know all the work throughout the seasons pays off while versing some of Australia’s top scullers. Racing at Champion Lakes hasn’t been the easiest thing with headwinds up to 30 km/h or more. The occasional gust that will make you work a bit harder to stay in lane or the course looking longer than usual, unlike west lakes due to the lack of landmarks.”

There is an added level of the atmosphere at a National Championship, the additional training, commitment, and logistics all combine to create a truly inspiring environment to be a part of. Oliver explains his week at Champion Lakes,

I have really enjoyed being a part of the regatta, the environment and electric atmosphere with lots of screaming and cheering really makes it feel alive. Looking alongside the bank and seeing hundreds of ergos and bikes being used by top-performing athletes, warming up for the big finals is so inspiring. Nearly two thousand athletes were competing and even more spectators. All the coaches can ride alongside the race and encourage the athletes to push harder. Hearing all the parents cheering on the race is so motivating and adrenalin pumping as you are passing the 500m mark.”

As a school and rowing club, we are exceptionally proud of the way our rowers and coaches conducted themselves on and off the water. It was a challenging week of racing in dynamic conditions which saw lane redraws, program changes, race cancelations, and back-to-back events. Igor recalls some of the challenging conditions,

The whole week there was a very strong wind blowing, which made the races more difficult. Because of that, many rowers would capsize on the training course and even in the middle of a race. On Thursday, because of a storm [cyclone sitting off the bottom of WA] that was coming, they cancelled all the races. Thankfully the next day the water was really calm, and the races were fast.”

This was Norwood’s return to rowing on a national level, and the exceptional results are a testament to these athletes' work ethic, our coach’s passion and dedication, and the program's management. Brenton Terrell is a key element of this success, his National and International level of experience as a rower and coach allow for a deep understanding of the processes required to find enjoyment, success, and accomplishment at all levels of the sport. Oliver recalls,

I was able to slightly overcome the fear of never finishing the course and this wouldn’t have been possible without the help from BT. He has made it so easy to navigate around the area and has also given me some very helpful tips and tricks both on and off the water. He is a very experienced and knowledgeable coach and very funny especially listening to love shack on the way down to the lake and making April fools jokes about being late for a race.”

This sentiment is felt by all the athletes traveling to nationals as Igor explains,

I am very thankful for my coach BT. His priceless advice, strong mindset and his generally happy words helped me immensely. Thank you, BT, for the enthusiasm and teaching. I was very proud to represent my school and be a part of this team. I really hope more people come to nationals [in 2024] and our results will continue to improve.”

Igor came away from National with an incredible amount of race experience, the process of moving through Heats, Repechages, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and into A/B finals is a marathon. His exceptional efforts saw him place 2nd in the School Boy Single Scull, B Final (8th in Australia) and 4th in the U19 Single Scull, B Final (10th in Australia). A full summary of Norwood International High School results can been found here.

Angelica’s Key Highlights were,

The composite work I’ve done, rowing with girls from Victoria and South Australia in the eight (U19W8+) and double (U19W2x). Creating friendships that I hope to last for many more years to come, whether it be seeing each other at next year’s nationals or if they happen to visit Adelaide. Overall it’s been a good experience for everyone and I hope to go again next year with even more hunger for placings.”

We would greatly like to thank Rowing Australia, Rowing WA and the many volunteers for bringing the 2023 Australian Rowing Championships to life. It is an impressive feat to run over 600 races, and as Ollie recalls the regatta was conducted on a world-class level.

All the races were started on time to the second and they were extremely fast with the results. The officials and umpires were all super friendly and very nice to work with. They will help organise you into lane order and scream out if you are going to crash into the bank.”

A Big shoot out to Izzie Day, a Norwood old Scholar and now the Development and Operations Coordinator at Rowing WA.

A big thank you for the support from our rowers’ families who travelled with the group to WA and were exceptional in supporting not only our athletes but all those from the high schools and wider SA contingent.

We look forward to seeing Norwood’s representation continue to grow at Nationals in 2024.

Well done to our four athletes for taking on the challenge, representing our school and rowing club, and striving to exceed their own expectations. We are very proud of you.


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