Men's lightweight four races to ninth-place finish in Lithuania
By Alistair Burns
Three Vancouver College graduates competed for their country July 11-15 at the 2012 World Rowing under-23 championships in Trakai, Lithuania. Marc Addison, Evan Cheng, and Maxwell Lattimer, all former Fighting Irish rowers, along with Graham Schenck, a student at the University of Western Ontario, earned a ninth-place finish in the lightweight four category.
"Racing internationally was an eye opener for all of us. In our heat we jumped out ahead with open water on all the crews, but we lost our advantage very quickly," described Addison, who was bowman.
The Canadians placed ninth overall in the world. In the semi-finals, they failed to qualify for the 'A' final; thus they were put in the 'B' final. However, in that, their final race, they squeaked across the line 0.3 seconds ahead of Team Hungary to finish third.
Addison, now a history major at the University of Western Ontario, explained the major difference in Lithuania. Even when the Canadians had a sizable lead of a few boat lengths, other crews would doggedly pursue and pass the Canuck crew before the finish line. The race length is two kilometres.
"I believe our last race was definitely the most memorable, as we stayed with the leaders for the first 1,500 metres. The New Zealanders were neck and neck with us the whole way," he pointed out.
Maxwell Lattimer, a UBC student, held the third seat for the Canadian four.
The experience has "definitely fuelled the fire for our training towards next year's U-23 world championships, because all three VC alumni are still eligible," he said.
Addison went to Europe for the first time to represent Canada. He said being able to compete for one's country is indescribable.
"I was sitting in the starting gates and I saw the red and white on the three guys in front of me with 'Canada' on our backs. It was an honour."
When he started rowing at VC, he found the sport addictive. It taught him self-discipline, since practising in the wee hours in January before the sun rose made it a challenge just to get out of bed, day after day.
Also, by pushing his endurance level each training session, he beat his body "into the ground until physiologically it failed," and then continued to row. He credited the sport for discovering his newfound reservoir of mental toughness.
Dereck Schwandt, the Vancouver College rowing coach, praised the maturity of the three alumni. They bought into the Irish rowing team's philosophy: a tough work ethic, putting the team first, and an emphasis on responsibility.
During their high school career on the water, the alumni looked "quite similar to a good university boat, and I was pretty proud," reminisced Schwandt.
While finishing ninth in the world was not the result the Canadian four hoped for, Addison took solace in the advice of one of their coaches, Barney Williams.
"He stressed, at the end of the day, if you (can) look your teammates in the eye and have no regrets, then that is success." He said they accomplished that in their last race. "I know every guy in the boat felt the same."