It is well known that the Murray River is one of the great places to train, with kilometres of undisturbed water to develop a rower’s technique and fitness. “Men of the Murray” have delivered greats such as current Australian powerhouse Alexander Hill (hailing from Loxton in the Riverland) and three-time Olympian James McRae from the Murray Bridge Rowing Club. Meanwhile, who can forget the famed Murray Cods who won the King’s Cup in 1920, 1922 and 1923, and featured heavily in Australia’s 1924 team for the Paris Olympic Games.
This year, the girls from Mannum Rowing Club begin their journey from the Murray River to the National stage, with the rural South Australian club making the decision to send its first full crew, in many years, over to the 2019 Aon Sydney International Rowing Regatta.
There have been multiple individual Mannum Rowing Club members who have travelled and competed in Nationals and Interstate rowing regattas as part of composites or as single scullers. Mannum Rowing Club’s most famous export is perhaps the South Australian 1920 winning Interstate Women’s Coxed Four crew, that won the inaugural Interstate Women’s Race (now the Queen’s Cup), stroked by the famous Dorothy Arnold.
The young athlete duo of Ella Deramore-Denver and Madison Cook-Palm have made the journey across to the Sydney International Regatta Centre, to compete in their first National Championships.
They have been guided by coach Dean Mobbs who has been involved with the sport for many years, starting at age 11 as a cox. Mobbs has been in and out of a boat since beginning but now says he is “fitter than ever” as he rows next to the girls on the Murray to coach them.
Madison has suffered from epilepsy from a young age and was heavily medicated to keep her symptoms at bay. When she wanted to take up rowing, it was only on the proviso that she wore a life jacket in the boat lest she have a fit and fall into the water. Incredibly, through Madison’s development in rowing she now lives and rows medication-free, with the exercise as her only treatment.
The two have entered their respective age division single sculls and will team up to race the U19W2x together. Ella has performed quite well in South Australia, winning the 2nd grade single scull at the Riverland Premiership Regatta in Berri with Madison taking out the third position in the race. However, the girls seem in awe of the speed of the competition – even with their heavy training schedule they said it is unlike racing they have experienced before. “They don’t slow down at all,” Cook-Palm said, with Deramore-Denver agreeing, “they all take off in the middle … there’s no settle. They just seem to go faster.”
After the races today the girls realised they would have to do a lot more work over the winter to be competitive on the national level. About the experience, Mobbs said, “I just want them to enjoy the moment. They’ve come from SA where they were going ok, to a competition where the bar steps up exponentially. It’s good for them to get that experience to know what you really have to do to be successful.”
Mannum host the home regatta next weekend and hope to capitalise on the momentum the girls have created by coming to SIRR, with scope to include more students from the local school in the clubs rowing program.