A small but mighty Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) rowing team went east to compete in a national championship, coming home with admirable results.
Five GISS rowers competed alongside circa 1,200 participants in the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) Regatta in St. Catharines, the national championship for high school rowing. The Salt Spring team was one of the smallest school programs to participate, with some of the best results, coach Stacy Mitchell reported.
“It was an incredible success between thunderstorms and lightning with periods of sun,” she wrote. “All five rowers successfully qualified for the finals in their events.” Only 150 athletes made it to the finals.
Grey Williamson came fifth in the Junior Men’s single event. Quinn Nickels and Zoe Clarke came sixth in the Senior Women’s Double. Nickels, Clarke, Angelica Allen and Maya Wilson came fifth in the Senior Women’s Quad.
“It was incredible to see these athletes from our small community raise the challenge and be some of the best rowers in Canada at the secondary level,” Mitchell wrote.
It was the first time in three years that the national championships took place, the annual event hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regattas across the country were stopped during the pandemic, yet the GISS rowers continued training both on and off the water in innovative ways to keep safe. Coaches Stacy Mitchell and Heidi Cowan had the rowers practise “in single sculls, with staggered starts and extensive safety protocols, maintaining their four practices a week on St. Mary Lake,” GISS Rowing wrote.
The rowers also pulled together to raise the needed funds to get them to St. Catharines, organizing fundraising lunches and raffles.