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Time was on rower’s side

Athlete discusses time handicap in master events

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Sheila Wilson-Kowal (left) and Friederike von Aweyden placed first in the master women’s double at the 37th Western Canada Sprints Regatta hosted by the Regina Rowing Club on Wascana Lake in Regina, Sask. Wilson-Kowal also placed first in the master women’s single.

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Sheila Wilson-Kowal (left) and Friederike von Aweyden placed first in the master women’s double at the 37th Western Canada Sprints Regatta hosted by the Regina Rowing Club on Wascana Lake in Regina, Sask. Wilson-Kowal also placed first in the master women’s single. Photo Store

A local athlete took home two gold medals at a recent rowing regatta.

Sheila Wilson-Kowal, a 39-year-old River Heights resident, placed first in the master women’s single and in the master women’s double with her rowing partner, Friederike von Aweyden, who lives in West Broadway.

"It felt really good," Wilson-Kowal said about placing first in the master women’s single.

However, her favourite race was the master women’s double.

"I love rowing with Freddie (Friederike)," Wilson-Kowal said.

Wilson-Kowal said in the master races, there is a handicap on time.

"Basically, the race organizers try to make it a level playing field by giving a time advantage to older crews," Wilson-Kowal, who was the youngest competitor in the masters category, said.

"We all start at the same time. In Regina, younger crews needed to not only cross (the finish line) first, but have a time that was 10, 20 or 30 seconds faster than the older crews depending on age."

For example, another event Wilson-Kowal took part in was the mixed quad race. She crossed the finish line first, but ended up in third place because she didn’t meet the time requirement.

"It’s always a nail-biter to wait for the final results to see if we overcame the handicap," Wilson-Kowal, who works in the St. James area, said. "During the double race with Freddie, I could tell we had a pretty good lead with 250 metres to go, and (we) just needed to keep pushing hard to get an even wider lead. We gave it our all, and it was really satisfying to see that our time was 16 seconds faster than our closest competitor, enough to keep our first-place finish."

Wilson-Kowal began rowing eight years ago in 2006. Part of the reason for her interest in the sport was because her boyfriend at the time, Tracy Kowal, who is now her husband, often disappeared on the weekends to row. As a result, she decided to check it out for herself.

"I liked it right away. I was hooked after the first lesson," Wilson-Kowal said.

Wilson-Kowal had also spent a lot of time at Nutimik Lake, participating in water sports.

"It’s great to still be able to get out on the water in the middle of the city with friends that I’ve made through rowing and get an awesome workout," Wilson-Kowal said.

Rowing is also a great cross-training workout, according to the athlete. Wilson-Kowal also plays hockey, and she said that since she started rowing, her skating has also improved.

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