Woolwich students compete on international water

Marist Sisters College Woolwich students make up a more than a sixth of those selected to represent Australia in Junior divisions at the International Dragon Boat Federation’s 2017 World Nations Championships in France.

A group of 16 students from the school are among the 90 young Australians selected to compete in the under 16’s, under 18’s and under 24’s Australian Dragon Boat teams at the event from July 28 to July 30.

The students will meet their teammates from around Australia at a week-long training camp held on the Gold Coast before heading to Divonne-Les-Bains in eastern France for 200m, 500m and 2km races.

Year 12 students Emma Conway and Erin Thomas, both 17, will compete in the Under 18s team. It is the second time they have represented Australia in Dragon Boating, having both competed in the U16s division of the Championships in Canada in 2015.

 The team camaraderie is always great and so is finding new ways to push yourself.

– Erin Thomas

Emma said preparation for the event has included training sessions on water three times a week and others on land to gain fitness.  She said she was both excited and nervous about taking part in the Championships this month as she knew what to expect.

“This time I have more insight,” she said. “I give feedback to the others and tell them not to stress about the boat set up because we don’t know what position we’ll be in until we get there, and to just have fun and enjoy it.

“The front is usually the people who set up the technique, and the middle is the powerhouse where the strength comes in. The back is for the secret weapons, so there are completely different roles for each seat.”

Emma said a good timetable was the key to effectively balance HSC study with competition.

“It’s definitely hard,” she said. “You just need a timetable and to stick to it. When you need to study, study. When you need to train, train.”

Erin said she was looking forward to rowing with new teammates and others from the 2015 event.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s going to be bigger than last time because there is more competition in the under 18’s category. I feel like I have improved as a paddler, and the team includes quite a few of us who have competed together before, so it’s going to be a great experience to row together again.”

Erin started dragon boating in Year 8 and said there was a lot to like about the sport.

“The team camaraderie is always great and so is finding new ways to push yourself,” she said.

“It’s also a whole body sport – it’s not just your arms, as most people think. It’s about having that mental capability to push yourself further.”

Marist Sisters College Woolwich is one of three schools in NSW that offer Dragon Boating as a school sport. Students were first offered the opportunity to train in the sport off-site in 2011. A school-based learn to paddle program for Years 7 and 8 students was introduced two years ago. This, along with their peers’ international selection, has sparked further student interest in Dragon Boating at the College.

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