It was a homecoming of sorts for Team Canada rowers Max and Aaron Lattimer last week.
“I was just saying to Aaron how many times we have gone over the bridge towards Massey Tunnel and looked down at the slough to see if there were any rowers, never kind of thinking we would be on the national team and have a training camp in our hometown,” said Max.
The Ladner rowers were among the eight members of Rowing Canada’s national squad who trained at the Delta Deas Rowing Club under the guidance of coaches Dick Tonks and Jeremy Ivey in preparation for the 2019 Rowing World Championships Aug. 25 to Sept. 1 in Ottensheim, Austria.
“We wanted to come and check out the Delta Deas Rowing Club because we have heard so many great things about it. Just the long stretches of water is really nice,” said Ivey. “During a morning practice the guys rode 20km, so they went 10km in one direction and turned around. There are not many bodies of water where it is capable of doing that. It’s just a beautiful body of water and a beautiful place to train.”
Ivey said this year’s World Championships have an added significance as the top teams will qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Max and Patrick Keane (Victoria) are in the lightweight men’s double scull, while Aaron is preparing for the lightweight men’s single.
“If I use Max and Patrick and the lightweight men’s doubles for example, the top seven finishers will have a direct qualification for Tokyo,” Ivey said. “We have a good chance with Max and Patrick. We just raced at a World Cup event in June and they finished fourth against most of the top teams that will be at the World Championships.
“We’re trying not to talk too much about qualification though. We have four crews who are training here in Ladner that are going for Olympic spots and they all have a chance to win a medal at World’s, so instead of talking too much about the pressure of qualifying, we are thinking about the crews in medal contention and if they win a medal, they will qualify.”
Ivey said Aaron is competing at the World’s in a non-Olympic event, but is the first alternate for the lightweight men’s double scull.
Max rowed for Canada in lightweight fours at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, finishing 13.
He said Olympic redemption is certainly on his mind.
“The goal is qualify for Tokyo at the World’s. We’re doing really well this year. I feel the boat is in a really good place,” he said. “We have a great training group here in Delta and two great coaches. We feel we have all the pieces in place for Austria.
“After Rio I took some time to reflect on what I wanted to do in my rowing career and what I wanted to do next. It was almost a doubling down scenario where I felt if I was going to pursue another Olympic Games it had to be through a higher commitment of training. Finding the new coach in Dick Tonks, he has pushed us and prepared us, so if we can get the qualification down, next year will be pretty special.”
For Aaron the goal is to medal at the World’s and stay prepared if called upon.
“This will be the third time I will be racing the lightweight singles and each time at the World’s I have been getting better, just off the podium last year, so eye on the podium for sure this year,” he said. “It’s been a good year so far. We are all focused on podium finishes and Olympic qualifications. It’s great even being in the spare position. Just knowing that I can be in that support role and helping to push the guys is important.”