Queen's rowers receive funding for training

Grants allow development opportunities for Gaels rowers

Bernst, Stone, and Munro at the National Training Centre in Victoria, British Columbia.
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Photo supplied by Alex Bernst

After an impressive 2017 season on the water, the efforts of several Queen’s rowers are being rewarded with opportunity—both athletically and financially.

Earlier this spring, five athletes from the Queen’s rowing team received government funding for training opportunities in hopes of propelling their careers to the international stage.

Alex Bernst and Gavin Stone were both selected for Sport Canada funding after their performances at the Canadian National Rowing Championships in November. Bernst finished fourth and Stone fifth overall for the under-23 men’s 2 km. They both received approximately $22,000 in funding.

Additionally, three rowers on the team were nominated by ROWONTARIO for funding from the province. Gaels Louise Munro and Nick Grubic both received grants worth $4,400 to devote to training, while Greta Chase received around $2,200.

The Quest for Gold Ontario Athlete Assistance Program (OAAP) removes financial strain from athletes while they train by granting them funding. ROWONTARIO, the provincial rowing organization, determines which athletes have the greatest potential for development based on training test scores and on-water performances, and subsequently nominates them for the OAAP funding.

With their funding, Bernst, Stone and Munro were invited to train at the National Training Centre (NTC) in Victoria, British Columbia this summer. Munro was invited for her third place finish in the women’s 2km at nationals, despite not qualifying for Sport Canada funding. The NTC is home to Canada’s national rowing team.

Meanwhile, Grubic and Chase will remain in Kingston to train with the Kingston Rowing Club (KRC). Grubic attended an integration camp at the NTC in the winter. He said that the volume of training was out of his comfort zone.

"I find that I need to have that work-life-training balance in order to feel good and perform better," he said. "I couldn’t see myself out there right now just training, going home and sleeping, then training."

For the Gaels out at the NTC, they’re training two to three times a day and six days a week. Overall, the athletes are averaging 200 kilometres in a boat or on the rowing machine per week.

"Other than rowing, there’s not a lot that you do," Stone said. "Sleep, eat, row."

With such a hectic schedule, Bernst has only found the time to invest his funding into one resource.

"Since you’re not doing much beyond training you don’t have many expenses beyond what you need to fuel your training," Bernst said. "I’ve spent 90% of what I’ve been given so far on food."

Munro mentioned the benefits of training in an elite environment.

"It’s really nice to solely focus on rowing and intermingle with the national team members," Munro said. "They’ve been really good about integrating us into their environment."

Part of the struggle with adjusting to the high volume of training at the NTC, the athletes noted, is preventing injury. Bernst and Stone both said that most of their time spent away from training is devoted to recovery.

"Once you finish a session you have time to recover, relax, and then get ready for the next one," Bernst said.

But with the rowers at the initial stages of their young careers, Bernst said much of the pain gets lost in their excitement at the opportunities they have.

"We’re out here, and we get to do what we love," Bernst said. "You kind of lose sight when you’re tired all the time and it’s kind of windy and you hate yourself, but it’s definitely a privilege to be out here and train. It’s an opportunity that not a lot of people get."

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