Scullers eye success at national champs

BENDIGO scullers Scott Balmer and Meaghan Lowndes have their eyes on glory at this month's national rowing titles in Penrith.

Balmer, 19, is rowing into a third nationals campaign and 16-year-old Lowndes to a second.

A year ago Balmer won silver in the quadruple sculls in Penrith.

Lowndes capped her first year in rowing by winning silver in the quad scull and seventh in the single scull.

They have spent many hours on Lake Weeroona and Nagambie building up for the Australian championships.

Racing at Penrith is from March 24 to 28.

Balmer will race in the under-21 lightweight single scull and team with Black Mountain's David Hofer in the under-23 lightweight double scull.

A busy campaign for Londes includes the under-19 single scull, bow in the under-19 double scull with Nagambie's Brooke Wells, and in the second seat for the under-19 quadruple scull.

The sculling stars are coached at Bendigo Rowing Club by Eaglehawk's Wynstan Gilbert, who works in Echuca.

Balmer and Lowndes said a lot of their training on Lake Weeroona, usually four or five times a week, focused on technique and starts.

Morning workouts begin at 5.30am before Lowndes heads off to Bendigo Senior Secondary College and Balmer to work as a fitter and turner at W. McCulloch & Sons.

For Lowndes its been a meteoric rise since she joined a beginner's class in 2012.

"I came along to the lake with mum (Trudy) who was in a beginner's group and decided to have a go.

"It's a lot of fun being on the water and always challenging in a race."

Balmer played various sports before he took up rowing eight years ago.

"I was walking around the lake. Wynstan was the first person I saw and we had a chat about rowing."

It was not long before Balmer was powering up and down the lake.

"Racing to second place in the quad sculls at last year's nationals was an amazing feeling," he said.

"There's so much work that goes into training and racing.

"In the lightweight (72 1/2 kg and under) you rely a lot on technique and explosive power, especially at the start."

Balmer said the stroke rate early in a race was 44 a minute, and then went to 35 a minute.

Involved with rowing for 19 years and coach at Bendigo for a dozen, Gilbert is rapt with the progress of Balmer and Lowndes.

"They have worked extremely hard to be where they are at."

Bendigo Rowing Club's honour board includes Olympians Jason Day and Hannah Every-Hall and Commonwealth Games representative Neville Howell.

The Bendigo Rowing Club will run a come and try day this Sunday as a fundraiser for Balmer and Lowndes.

Events will run from 10am until 2pm at Lake Weeroona.

You can learn basic skills on the ergo machines and then take to the water in a double or quadruple scull with experienced rowers and coaches.

The session costs $10. Barbecue and drinks will be available.

Register on the day. 

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