This half term has been very cold and as such we have been doing all of our work in the gym or indeed, any indoor space that we can utilise. We have also had the target of our Indoor Rowing Competitions to work towards and this has been a good vehicle for our youngsters to focus on.
Wednesday 29th January saw the Mersey Youth Rowing team invade Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School. We were able to inhabit a great space with a stage and huge screen that was linked to a digital projector. The IT set up enabled us to screen an image of the races for everybody in the room to enjoy. Head Teacher – Ms K Smyth – was a welcome guest and she was able to witness some very competitive racing, and even hand out some of the hard earned prizes. Mersey Youth Rowing is very grateful for allowing us to use her school facilities and making us most comfortable.
The racing was very keenly contested with our 5 schools being joined by King David School, St Nicholas and St Francis of Assisi. I am glad to report that in the important Year 8 races, our schools led the way home. This is the Year Group that we have been working with and it was from this pool of rowers that we selected our teams to represent us at The National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships. In the Boys’ competition, Kevin Dos Santos of North Liverpool scored a very strong 801 meters to win the race; this is a score that should have him well placed in London. It would also have been the winning score the day after in Warrington. The Girls’ race also produced another winner from North Liverpool, with a very impressive 763 meters from Blanche Villacorta. Interestingly, this score would also have been victorious in Warrington. North Liverpool also swept the board in the Year 8 relay races. Our team for London is made up of 5 athletes from North Liverpool, 4 from St Hildas and 1 from De La Salle. Let’s hope they enjoy the experience of racing in the iconic Copper Box Arena.
The day after on Thursday 30th January, we pitched up at Birchwood School Sports Hall for our Warrington/Cheshire Schools’ Competition. This was again a great venue, a double sports hall with pull out seating providing room for nearly 300 young rowers. Thanks to Birchwood Head – Emma Mills – for allowing us to use this fabulous facility. Sadly one of our 9 Warrington Schools couldn’t make it, but we were joined by Tarporley High School, Fallibroome and Congleton High Schools. We were also joined by The Russett School, Oaklands School, Hebden Green and Springfield. The children at these schools all have their own challenges and it was very encouraging to see them compete at the same event as the able bodied students.
As the previous day, one school led the way in the Year 8 competition. Padgate High School won the Boys and Girls’ individual events with Tyler Dunn and Megan Reynolds taking the honours. Padgate also managed to clean up in the relay events and win the Year 8 shields for Schools Indoor Rowing Champions. Warrington Youth Rowing is off to NJIRC for the 3rd time and our team is a cosmopolitan mix of the majority of our participating schools.
Our indoor competitions were greatly assisted by Dan Hetherington of British Rowing. Dan supervised the race systems on both days and his help was invaluable. Concept 2 was very helpful, loaning us the rowing machines. Jo at LSSP and Penny at WASSP also had a valuable input into the organisation of these events. We had a large bank of volunteers that helped out and I would like to thank everybody that gave up their valuable time to make these events a great experience for the children involved.
Rounding off indoor rowing, one of our coaches Cam Nyland recently became the Ladies Open Age Champion at The English Indoor Championships. Cam is training very hard in her quest for a place in the British U23 Rowing Team and it’s great that she can share her experiences with some of our students.
Our project in Liverpool has been suffering in recent times as our base at The Watersports Centre has been closed for refurbishment. Our latest update is that it will be open again in March, let’s hope it stays on target to open then. Our Liverpool coaches Jess, Sam and Paul are doing an excellent job keeping the scheme going, ferrying the ergos to the schools and running sessions there. We are targeting a return to the water ASAP!
We are hoping to add some new schools to the Liverpool scheme in time to start next September. We have had some very promising talks with schools that are keen to get involved with the scheme.
Warrington continues to operate well, but as in Liverpool the weather is proving to be problematic and indoor sessions are the order of the day. We will be trying hard to get back on the water as soon as the weather will allow.
The green shoots of another site are beginning to emerge and by our next newsletter I would hope that I will be able to share more information with you.
Looking to the near future, we have our regatta at the end of June on Tuesday 30th. We have decided to have one event based at Warrington Rowing Club. This will enable us to have a bigger event and the plan is to guarantee all the athletes at least 2 races. We would like to start at 2pm, finishing at 6 pm. Can School Leads and Heads please ensure that transport links are booked well in advance as this is a great showcase for us. It is also a valuable experience for the pupils; this may well be the only chance that many of them will have to represent their school, especially in front of a large crowd of supporters, teachers, and parents. More details nearer the time.
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