Pathway 2024

Published Fri 10 May 2024

Last weekend the WA Pathway Team made their way to Penrith to compete in the Pathway Regatta - arguably the most prestigious school-aged rowing competition in the country! The Pathway Regatta was being held at the same time as the Under 19 Selection Trials, so it was a BIG week for WA in Penrith! Read on for a rundown of the 2024 Pathway experience... 

Pathway crews went through a two-week training intensive, based out of Aquinas College, between Nationals (or the PSA Head of the River in some cases) and Pathway. Their coaches helped them develop a shared technique and rhythm - the biggest challenge with this sort of short-term campaign - and importantly, start to bond with each other! The athletes were rowing most mornings across the school holidays, plus a second session in the gym or ergo on some afternoons, putting in a heap of work to get themselves ready. 

And then early on Saturday 13th April they headed to Sydney! Once they landed, there was a slight delay as the coaches bravely navigated the chaotic world of hire vans... but once THAT was sorted it was off to the Nepean for a drop off of the gear to the accom and a paddle on the river. 

Day 2 of the trip was another training day. SIRC was being used for the NSW Grade State Champs so the athletes were able to enjoy another day of training on the picturesque Nepean River - the same stretch of river that the Women's National Training Centre use! After putting final touches on their race starts, they headed to SIRC for the Pathway & Underage Athlete briefing, unload the trailer, and get organised for Monday AM racing. That night they watched Jack and Alex's final at the World Cup by crowing into a cabin and watching from a laptop - what better way to pump up for racing!!

Photo: Training on the Nepean.

Photo: Girls Coxed Quad out for a training paddle on Sunday arvo at SIRC.


So on Monday morning they geared up for their first round of racing - the Grading Races. These races are designed to give crews and regatta staff an indication of how fast each crew is and how they rank against each other, but your result in this race didn't impact whether you made an A or B Final - just a stand alone race. The Grading Race is a unique race for the Pathway crews because they are racing against not just the other Pathway crews, but also all the crews going for Under 19 selection! So an interesting way to compare your boat's speed to a big group of exceptional athletes. 

Monday afternoon was the first proper race of the regatta - the Pathway Heats! All our crews raced hard and did their best against untested competition - for most of the crews they were up against, it was the first time those combinations were racing together AND the first time they'd ever lined up against those other crews - absolutely no idea how fast the crew next to you would be, and a unique challenge!

To give you a sense of the level of competition though... the best rowers from the NSW GPS schools - who year after year fill out the A-Finals at Nationals in the Schoolboy Eight - were selected into one of the two NSW Eights. You'll also see many athletes who feature heavily in the finals of the School & U19 events at Nationals. It's a seriously stacked field.

So after the heats, the Boys A Eight and the Girls Coxed Quad made their A Finals and the Boys B Eight and the Girls Eight qualified into the B Final. The boys A eight had qualified with the fastest time in all the heats, and there was a tangible buzz amongst the group. 

Photo: Relaxing in the stands after Monday's efforts.

The finals were held on Tuesday morning and when I tell you the WhatsApp group was blowing up I am barely joking. So many photos & videos from excited athletes, parents & coaches even before racing had started!! There was a palpable WA spirit over at the regatta centre and we all held our breath waiting for results to come through. Every crew did their absolute best for the WA zootie, and they all did you very proud!! After some fast racing in the Quads (WA Girls - 6th in the A Final), the Eights had their time to shine. The Boys B Eight were 2nd in their B Final in a very competitive field, and the Girls Eight won their B Final convincingly! The Boys A Eight had everyone holding their breath given their very fast time in the heat and it was heartwarming to see all the WA crews race back around to watch their race after racking their boats, determined to support each other. 

The Boys A Eight put down a superb race and led the whole way down - eventually taking the win by over a length. This is when the WhatsApp group truly went crazy. We saw video of not only the rowing but of the WA rowers going nuts on the bank, cheering the boys home and deafening the other states with "YEAH WA!!!" Yeah WA indeed guys!!!

Photo: Boys A Eight on the podium - QLD Silver, Tassie Bronze.

Team photo!! Up the WA!!

We heard some amazing feedback from families about how much fun their rowers had on this trip and we hope that this encourages the athletes to continue in the sport past their school careers. Racing in a Pathway crew is a unique experience, and the result is almost secondary to the sense of community that we hope the athletes come back with. We all know that is why our sport is special. It is about coming together with a group of other people, putting in an ungodly amount of work in pursuit of making YOUR boat go as well as you can, and knowing that any success is a result of a whole ecosystem of people putting time and energy into the cause. This Pathway group were successful because they were loyal teammates, flexed their self-discipline so they could give as much as they could to their crews, and took responsibility for the energy they brought to the group.

Well done to all the athletes & coaches who took part!! 

If you are interested in taking part in the 2025 Pathway Team, keep your eyes on our social media & website later this year for more information about nominating.