Five GISS rowers off to national championships

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Five rowers from Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) have qualified to compete at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) Regatta from June 3 to 5 in St. Catharines, Ont.

Due to Covid this will be the first spring in three years the national championships will take place and it happens to mark the 75th anniversary of the event.

Covid may have held up regattas across the country but it did not keep the GISS rowing team from training on or off the water for long. As soon as the province gave the go-ahead, coaches Stacy Mitchell and Heidi Cowan worked out a plan that would allow all rowers to practise in single sculls, with staggered starts and extensive safety protocols, maintaining their four practices a week on St. Mary Lake during the pandemic.

Coaches’ decisions paid off. Members of the 18-person team from GISS have made their presence known competing at a number of events this spring, including Maple Bay Regatta, Shawnigan Lake School Regatta, Brentwood College Regatta and the Rowing Canada Association’s Small Boat Trials.

Angelica Allen has been rowing since Grade 9 and will compete at nationals in the under-19 women’s double with Maya Wilson as well as the women’s under-19 quad with Zoë Clarke, Quinn Nickels and Wilson.

Nickels, who will be competing in both the under-19 women’s double with Clarke and the women’s under-19 quad, said she is really “proud and excited to be representing Salt Spring Island. We all work so hard together as a small little club.”

Grey Williamson will be rowing in the under-17 single male category and said he is thrilled to be competing at such a high level.

Between handing out pieces of pizza at a school fundraiser on Thursday, Clarke said, “We are just a small club on a small island and we don’t always have all the opportunities other kids do. Now we are going to the national championships. It’s worth all the work and effort.”

The entire team is pitching in to raise money to help offset costs of attending the championships. In addition to a fundraising lunch that raised $400 last Thursday, the team has organized a raffle. Tickets can be bought through Salt Spring Shine or by contacting andria.scanlan@gmail.com. Financial donations are also welcomed.

Results of the CSSRA Regatta can be followed nearly live at http://cssra.ca/results.

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