THIS may look like a miracle, but Ballarat High School rowers might need one.
Rowing season is a couple of weeks away and High School's jetty is underwater with waves lapping at the shed floor making access to the lake difficult.
It is a tough blow to High School, which is struggling to get practical water training into athletes on the eve of the rowing season after heavy downpours have swelled Lake Wendouree.
A little further around the lake, Wendouree-Ballarat Rowing Club, has been forced to lock out members completely this week for safety. The club, which also houses Phoenix and Damascus school crews, is flooded in the kitchen, ergo training room and the jetty has disappeared.
High School director of sport Rob Simmonds said conditions on the lake have been tough for all rowers in the pre-season, particularly for inexperienced junior crews with most schools and clubs keeping them off the lake due to strong, windy conditions.
“We’re about three to four weeks behind in our junior program, but so are other Ballarat schools,” Mr Simmonds said. “We’re going really well, apart from the inconvenience, and our kids are getting into the spirit of it and getting their feet a little wet.”
High School rowers can get into their shed carefully through water and the floor inside, a couple of centimetres higher than its bridge and jetty, is dry.
Wendouree-Ballarat had masters crews out rowing on Monday morning when water had been seeping through but constant rain early in the week created a flood.
Club secretary Kelly Steegstra said conditions were too dangerous and slippery to allow members in the sheds and particularly lifting boats on and off the jetty. But the club remained hopeful water would go down enough to assess the damage this weekend.
“We’re very fortunate we had a working bee a couple of weeks ago and lots of things were picked up off the ground and the shed was tidied up,” Ms Steegstra said. “Obviously this will involve us having another big working bee to tidy up again.”
It will be a tough test for all Ballarat crews as they prepare for a hectic schedule of Rowing Victoria regattas against rivals with far more on-water preparation.
Ms Steegstra, who coaches Phoenix and masters crews, said Ballarat gyms had been kind to offer athletes discounted entry to use the ergos, so at least they were using rowing muscles.
But nothing was like on-water practice.
Conditions are a stark contrast to 10 years ago when Lake Wendouree was completely dry and crews were forced to travel to find water for training.
High School uncovered old photos for comparison and jest that now, if they could walk on water they should be able to win Ballarat Associated Schools’ Head of the Lake.
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