Three rowers glide up and down Swan Lake as the sun beats down while they prepare for the B.C. Summer Games which started Thursday.
Jakob Laflamme-Yonkman, Claire Armstrong and Aidan Oliphant will be joined by Hannah Mehain to compete in doubles and singles, 1,000- and 500 metre rowing in Nanaimo.
“I’m looking forward to see these kids row in a different waterway. They are all great rowers and are enthusiastic about their sport,” said Zone 2 head coach Lisa George.
George has been coaching rowing for six years and was a member of the rowing coaching staff for the 2010 Games in Fort Langley.
“We have a little less experience than some of the larger zones who have quite a tradition in rowing, but I think they’ll do well. They are all really skilled rowers,” said George.
Laflamme-Yonkman is in his second season with the Vernon Rowing Centre. It took some convincing from a friend for Laflamme-Yonkman to join, but he is glad he did.
“It’s pretty peaceful out there. It is a sport that you can get better at after each practice,” said Laflamme-Yonkman.
The former football player of seven years prefers to race solo rather than doubles.
“You have a better feel for what you are doing in the boat. I want to see how I compare to the rest of B.C.,” said Laflamme-Yonkman.
Laflamme-Yonkman will pair up with Oliphant for the doubles races. Oliphant has been rowing for two years and doesn’t mind the early-morning practices.
“It is the only sport worth getting up for at 5:30 a.m.,” said Oliphant.
The only part of rowing that he isn’t fond of is tipping over.
“I’ve tipped twice. It was basically a nightmare,” joked Oliphant.
Oliphant loves watching rowing on TV, especially when Mahé Drysdale of Australia is racing. The Aussie is the current Olympic champion and five-time World champion in the single sculls.
Zone 2 assisntant coach Peter McLean moved from Ontario to Salmon Arm three and a half years ago.
He was a rower at Western University and is excited to attend his first Games.
“It’s great seeing the kids improve over the past few weeks and now we get to see how they will compete against other kids in the province,” said McLean.
Armstrong is looking forward to racing with her friend Mehain.
“I like doubles better. I feel more comfortable and stronger in the boat. The technique is easier too,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong got involved in rowing because her mother and older sister were rowers. Her sister, Emma, competed as a rower in the 2010 Games.
Most people dread a seven hour bus and ferry ride, but Armstrong can’t wait.
“I think the bus trip is going to be pretty fun. We don’t spend too much time together outside rowing,” said Armstrong.
The Zone 2 rowers are in for long days during the Games. They are expecting to be on the water from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day.
“I already have a massage booked for when we get back,” said George.