Aaron Skinner (left) and Chris Murray won gold in the adaptive double over 1000m at the national rowing championships last week. Nestles Rowing Club members Angela Meade (left) and Rachel Mahony will compete in this weekend’s Schoolgirls Championships in Geelong.
Nanjing Night Net

WHILE rowers Aaron Skinner and Chris Murray have just returned from their major event with a golden glow, clubmates Angela Meade and Rachel Mahony are preparing for the peak of their season.

It is a busy period for Nestles Rowing Club, which will be represented by Meade and Mahony at the Head of the Schoolgirls Championships in Geelong this weekend.

Coach Tom Bertrand said the Emmanuel College students would be rowing in the open single sculls, starting with heats tomorrow.

“I think they’re both capable of at least making the semi-finals,” he said.

“They’ve done heaps of work.

“I would say they’ve been doing four water sessions a week, as well as their fitness training.”

The competition, held on the Barwon River, is the biggest single-sex rowing regatta in the southern hemisphere.

“It’s huge,” Bertrand said.

“This is what they’ve been aiming for.”

Last week’s Australian championships in Perth was Skinner and Murray’s major meeting.

It saw the pair take out gold for the first time in the adaptive double over 1000 metres.

“Three or four year ago we started to try and get them to row in the double scull,” Bertrand said.

“Aaron’s six-foot-three, maybe, and Chris is five-foot-six, which isn’t ideal teaming.

“One is autistic and one has Down syndrome, so their thinking is not the same, but they’ve just worked and worked and worked.”

The coach said that competing against able-bodied competitors in numerous regattas had benefited the duo, who also picked up individual medals at the Champion Lakes course last week.

In the adaptive single scull over 500 metres, Skinner defended his title by claiming gold, while Murray collected silver.

Their efforts helped Victoria win the Bob Blake perpetual trophy, awarded for the most points gained over the regatta in the adaptive division.

Bertrand said the pair were winners regardless of their medal tally.

“If they do everything right, that’s winning,” he said. “To get a medal, that’s a super bonus.”

Meanwhile, Bertand’s son and former Nestles Rowing Club member Tommy had a successful campaign at the national championships, claiming gold in the men’s lightweight pairs with Sydney’s Oli Zuk.

He also clinched silver with his club Mercantile in the lightweight eight, while he represented Victoria in the President’s Cup men’s lightweight fours, collecting a bronze.

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