Back from the 37th annual Western Canada Sprints Championships, local rowers Andrew Lamont and Brandi Smith have some shiny new hardware to add to their personal collections.
Carrying four of the seven medals the Winnipeg Rowing Club picked up at the regatta in Regina, Saskatchewan, Lamont and Smith — both residents of the River Heights area — say they had a great time competing at the event.
Smith brought home two gold medals, with Lamont picking up a gold and silver medal.
"I won the lightweight women’s double with my rowing partner Tracy Taylor and we teamed up with two of the younger girls who are up-and-coming rowers in the lightweight women’s quad and won that one as well," Smith said.
Lamont found success at the regatta as well, but says his age prevented him from finding perhaps as much as he would have liked; just not in the traditional sense.
"I won the senior men’s quad with three other guys from the club, and I rowed the master’s single as well. I was first to cross the line, but they kind of have a funky formula to age handicap it," Lamont explains. "So I wasn’t quite old enough to win. I would have had to beat this 72-year-old guy from Edmonton by 56 seconds, and I beat him by 49 or something like that."
Rowing for 20 and 14 years respectively, Lamont and Smith both got into the sport after finishing university, and became hooked from the first couple of times out on the water.
"I had done a lot of sports through high school, and maybe was looking for something a bit more structured, but just being out on the water is so nice," Smith says. "That feeling of gliding across the water, and working so hard to do it."
An athlete all through high school, Lamont was looking for a competitive sport to pique his interest, but says he never expected to fall in love with rowing.
"The coach (of the club) at the time just started recruiting me, and I wasn’t that interested in rowing actually, I thought I would play rugby, but he kept on bugging me and a couple guys I knew were also rowing, so I started. And because it was so structured and organized and it was ambitious, it just sort of took," he says. "I like setting ambitious goals and it’s worthwhile working hard to try to achieve them."
And for those who have always wanted to try their hand at the sport, Smith says it’s encouraging to know that most high level rowers get into the sport at a pretty late age.
"It’s not like hockey or soccer where you need to start when you were five to be an elite athlete. A lot of rowers will start late high school or into their 20s and they can get to the Olympics and that top level, it’s really a late-entry sport," she says. "So we find that a lot of people have success when they’ve had a strong sporting background in other sports, whether it be basketball, volleyball, swimming. They come in and just have that training mentality and want to try something new and they can excel at rowing and get to a pretty high level."
For more information on the Winnipeg Rowing Club and the programs they offer, residents can call 204-237-1690.