Rowers are often asked the question of what makes the boat go fast.
The usual answers are, “Solid training, good technique, and excellent team dynamics.” But if you were to ask brothers Nick and Rohan Lavery, that recently won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s Eight at the recent 2022 World Rowing Championships, both would add the word “family.”
Rowing has seen several siblings represent Australia at the senior level – e.g. the three Stewart brothers (Stephen, Geoff, and James) whom all won Bronze Medals in the Men’s Eight at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Tokyo Gold Medalist Alex Purnell OAM, and his brother Nick who raced in the London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Men’s Eights, Olympian Georgina Douglas (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000) and her brother Robert Douglas that competed in the 2002 Australian World Championships Men’s Eight, just to name a few.
Recently the Rowing Australia Communications team caught up with Nick and Rohan to discuss the topic “family boat speed.”
RA: Tell us about that feeling when you tell people that you are part of the Australian Men’s Eight?
NICK: It feels good because the Aussie Men’s Eight has so much history at the Olympic games and Eights rowing is synonymous with our sport. We take this pride seriously, but we never forget to always enjoy the journey.
ROHAN: We are both very proud and it is a huge honor.
RA: Tell us about the family’s love for the sport
ROHAN: Our parents never rowed. They played sports but not to the levels that we are trying to reach. I like to think that we inspired our sister Zara to row. She was selected for the Under 19 Women’s Coxed Four in 2021.
NICK: It’s funny that our parents never rowed and probably never even thought about it before we started, but they now have three children who love the sport. I think they’ve embraced the community around it and in that way, Rowing has made us closer as a family.
RA: In your opinion, how does “family” help the boat go fast?
NICK: Once many siblings finish school, they tend to grow apart because of different life goals. Rowing has kept Ro and I close which I think we’re both grateful for. Ro and I both want to achieve the same dream of winning an Olympic medal. It will be a cool thing to share if we can make it happen. So, in that way, maybe it adds another level of drive and motivation to our rowing.
ROHAN: I think family can help any boat go fast. Nick and I are different in some ways and similar in others. Being brothers allows us to communicate honestly about what we think, and we know that even after the biggest disagreements when we get off the water, we will still be brothers. Good communication can bring a crew closer together.
RA: When you hear stories of the three Stewart brothers winning Bronze Medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, does that make you believe that you both can achieve success together?
ROHAN: That story is awesome. It also reinforces the message to us that we can achieve success together. I was the traveling reserve at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Nick was in the Eight that raced. Due to the pandemic, I was the only person in the crowd. I was grateful to be part of it, but I want to always be part of the boat that is trying to achieve winning speed and it would be nice to do it with my brother.
NICK: Everybody likes to see brothers rowing together and doing well. There are plenty of brothers, not just in Australia, but in other nations such as France, Ireland, Italy, and Croatia who have achieved Olympic and World Championship success. Some big shoes to fill, but as Rohan said, we want to achieve this Olympic dream together.