National rowing team stocked with Vikes

 

It’s almost like old times for the blue and gold on the waters of Elk Lake.

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The University of Victoria rowing program has produced Olympic medallists such as Silken Laumann, Kirsten Barnes, Derek Porter, John Wallace, Kevin Neufeld, Dean Crawford, Grant Main, Barney Williams and Buffy Alexander, among numerous others.

There is now a new generation — led by Patrick Keane, Taylor Perry and Rebecca Zimmerman — as the resurgent UVic program has landed three Vikes rowers and alumnus Kai Langerfeld on the Canadian team for the 2017 world championships, Sept. 24 to Oct. 1 in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida.

“These [UVic] rowers create such a great team environment and they make hard work look really easy,” Vikes men’s head coach Aalbert Van Schothorst said.

“We have a great training group, and the rowers work well together while really pushing each other.”

And that is without mentioning the highly regarded Mount Douglas grad Caileigh Filmer, who is transferring to Rick Crawley’s UVic women’s program this year from Cal-Berkeley of the NCAA Pac-12.

Filmer was only 19 when she rowed from the crucial stroke seat in the women’s eight for fifth-place Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was in the stroke seat as Canada won gold in the world U-23 championships this year.

Filmer has a heavy academic load in the sciences and is prioritizing the classroom for the rest of this season. But make no mistake: Filmer is the key on the women’s side in the quadrennial leading to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. That she has chosen to return to her hometown university speaks volumes.

Zimmerman takes one of the two open spots, including Filmer’s, as six of the Canadian women’s eight return from the Olympic crew last summer in Rio.

Like Filmer and Zimmerman, Keane is a hometown Victoria product. He will row with Taylor Hardy of North Vancouver in the lightweight men’s double at the world championships.

Perry and Rio Olympics-finalist Langerfeld, from Parksville, will team with Mackenzie Copp of London, Ont., and David de Groot of St. Catharines, Ont., in the men’s four.

“It is so great to see Kai [Langerfeld] and Taylor [Perry] rowing together in that boat for Canada,” Van Schothorst said.

Trish Mara of the Victoria City Rowing Club, another home-Island product, is headed to the world championships in the lightweight women’s quad sculls.

Matthew Buie and 2012 Olympic silver-medallist Conlin McCabe will be in the Canadian men’s double scull.

Christine Roper, Lisa Roman, Nicole Hare and Susanne Grainger will do double duty in the women’s four and eight.

Roper was born in Jamaica, where her father was a beach resort manager, and is a former boarding adviser at St. Michaels University School. She scuba-dives and was an NCAA rowing champion with the University of Virginia Cavaliers.

Carling Zeeman will be in the women’s single, a Canadian boat once made famous by Laumann.

Nine men and 13 women, composing eight crews, will represent Canada at the 2017 worlds.

Rowing Canada, headquartered at Elk Lake, is in a major rebuild after dipping to a lone medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, won by women’s lightweight doubles silver medallists Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee of Victoria.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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