Vancouver College rowers place first in national championship
By Brent Mattson
The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--Head coach Dereck Schwandt says he is more concerned about the effort the Fighting Irish rowing team put in than the results they get out of it. Luckily, this year he didn't have to choose between the two.
The Vancouver College Fighting Irish boys rowing team dominated the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) 66th Annual Regatta June 3 to 5, earning the points trophy for best overall performance. It is the first time in the Irish have come out as the top boys' program in the national championship.
"Results are results," said Schwandt. "I'm just really proud of the work ethic of the boys. The group found a way to work throughout the year."
Tully Cogswell, a Grade 10 student on the junior rowing team, was excited just to be part of the action in St. Catharines, Ont.
"This was my first year going to the nationals as a VC rower, which I have been waiting to do since I came to VC in Grade 8," he said. "It was an honour to participate in Vancouver College's best year of rowing, and better yet, win gold (in my race) at the same time."
"If it hadn't been for my coaches, Rob Weitemeyer and Mike Lattimer, I wouldn't have gotten anywhere," Cogswell added, "(and coach Schwandt), I can only imagine, has been waiting for this moment for many years."
The team placed in six out of seven competitions, with gold medals in junior and senior lightweight four-man races and junior heavyweight eight-man race. The junior lightweight eight-man team also earned a bronze medal and the junior and senior heavyweight four-man teams both placed sixth.
Schwandt, who's been with the Fighting Irish for 12 years, said he's never had a group of boys like this year's.
"We've always had a couple of guys that had the work ethic and dedication and persistence to compete at the CSSRA," he said, "but we've never had this number of boys that have been able to put in the time to do what they're doing. It was just a really good experience, very satisfying."
The combined results of their races in the heats and the finals was enough to earn the school 110 points, 19 more points than their closest competitor, Upper Canada College.
Vancouver College managed to outshine their opponents with only 25 athletes in a competition where the top teams in the country usually have 40 to 50, coach Weitemeyer said.
After bringing teams to compete nationally for so many years, Schwandt said, it was tough to process the whole thing.
"I haven't had a chance to reflect on it very well yet, (but) the most exciting thing was when we got together by the dock and with the banner and the whole team was there with smiles on their faces," he said. "That was the highlight: 25 boys, three coaches, and the principal (John McFarland)."
He added that he's as proud of his team's achievement on dry land.
"I'm proud of the fact the boys have exemplary marks," Schwandt said. "All of the grads on the team are going into university, hopefully to row there too. Their marks are second to none."
Schwandt stuck around in Ontario until June 8 with some of his athletes who tried out for the Canadian junior national rowing team and the Canadian junior development team.
Stephano Belifore and Garreth Lindstrom were selected for the junior national team and will compete in the Junior World Championships in Eton, U.K., this summer.