There's a whole new dynamic down at the Blenheim Rowing Club this season and it is adding greatly to a squad poised for one of their most successful seasons on record.
Among the 35 gold medal winners at the recent South Island championships was a women's crew, the first time since the 1980s that a women's crew from Blenheim has won a gold medal at a significant regatta.
It's part of the development in recent years sparked by head coach Bill Campbell, who was also in charge in the 1980s when the Blenheim Club women's crews, who also rowed out of Marlborough Girls' College, scooped numerous national titles.
Bill is the head coach at Blenheim but he's got a willing helper looking after the women's programme, a former rower at the club, Steve Hill. Steve stepped in last year when he could see Bill had his hands full trying to organise and coach everyone.
There are six rowers, all novices and a coxswain competing at the National Club Championships next week at Lake Ruataniwha in Twizel and one of the crew is Karmyn Ingram. Like her crew-mates she got into rowing having answered an advertisement for a learn-to- row day last season.
She's loving her new sport. and said: "We had a 10-week learn to row programme on a Sunday morning and we decided who wanted to row masters and club and some have fallen into both categories." There were initially about a dozen rowers serious about taking the sport up they are now left with the real keen ones.
Karmyn is really enjoying her new sport and having spent the last 11 years nurturing her two children, aged eight and 11 said: "It's really good. Getting really fit, as fit as I've ever been. I put on a lot of weight after having my children. I lost that weight doing a 12-week fitness programme with Tracey Adams and rowing was the next step up from that."
Occupying the stroke seat, Karmyn said the crew is going really well and "we are a tight bunch".
They will row three events at the nationals. Richelle Collier and Paige Gilmore are in one double scull as are Esme Holdsworth and Stacey Harper. The quadruple scull comprises Karmyn, Johnny B Taylor, Gilmore and Collier while all six plus coxswain Gillian Wallace are in a composite eight with two Nelson rowers.
Age is certainly no barrier to being in the crew.
"Our baby, Paige, turns 18 at the nationals and I was 40 last year," Karmyn said.
"We get back to a teenage sense of humour and we like a bit of fun to go with the hard work."
As for the boys, Steve reckons it's good for them and the club to have women rowers around. "There's a good vibe around the place with the women rowers, a different dynamic."
Karmyn admits that nerves are ever present before racing.
"I still get really nervous. It's like going to the dentist. Once you are at the start there is nothing you can do. It's full on once the gun goes."
While they might be novice rowers, their goals are high for the nationals, as Steve explained. "The quad has a good chance of winning gold and one of the two doubles hopefully gold. The aim is to get both into the final then anything can happen."
- The Marlborough Express
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