July Bulletin

June Recap:

Alberta Athletes are having a remarkable year on the water.  Take a look at some the achievements from our athletes during the month of June. 

  1. Nine Alberta athletes will represent Canada at the upcoming 2024 FISU World University Games in Rotterdam the Netherlands from July  4-6, 2024.  The athletes in no particular order are; Gabrielle Yarema, Gabriella Worobec, Gabrielle Kieser, Eliza Dawson, Bob Bryden, Andrew Hubbard, Axel Ewashko, Sam Ree and Mikaela Holthuis
  2. Four Alberta athletes will represent Canada at the 2024 World Rowing Senior, U23 and U19 Championships (Mega Worlds) in St. Catharines, Ontario.  The athletes are Karissa Riley in the Lightweight Women Single, Anna Currie and her pair partner Ciara Stevenson in the Lighweight Women Pair, Bob Bryden in the U23 Men’s 8+ and Griffen Salmon in the Junior Men’s Double.  The athletes will be accompanied by Alex Marchuk who will serve as one of the team coaches. 
  3. Five Alberta athletes are representing their respective clubs at the 2024 Henley Royal Regatta in Henley on Thames England.  Albert Harkema, Patrick Milner, Alexis Vela and Carter Cranmer Smith are representing Calgary in the Wyfold Challenge Cup while Shaye de Paiva is representing Canada in the Town Challenge Cup. 
  4. Congratulations to the Calgary Rowing Club for hosting a successful Alberta Open this past weekend

Marketing Initiative

For the past two months the writer sent out a call for Alberta athletes, coaches and officials to share a series of videos.  With the upcoming Olympic Games, we believe now is the time is now to build interest in our sport.  We ask that everyone take the time to share the videos found in the following link on social media

Last Call to Register

Registration for the  2024 Lakeland Rowing Camp is now open.  The camp is open to athletes of all ages and skill levels. We hope that everyone will mark the dates of July 19 through to 21, 2024  in their calendars and come out to Vermilion to participate in this year’s event. To register simply follow the link

Rowing Stories

This past month Rowing Canada announced its team that will represent Canada at the Olympic / para-Olympic Games.  Included amongst the 13 athletes competing in 3 separate boat classes were two Alberta based athletes.  They are in no particular order.

Jessica Sevick – Women’s 8+ – When Jessica was 12 years old, she was doing a luge training run at Canada Olympic Park when she crashed at a speed of 86km/h on one of the final turns. Her helmet flew off and she hurtled down the final feet of the track bare-headed, “just ping-ponging.”   When her team finally reached her at the bottom of the course, she was unconscious, choking on her own vomit as her jaw locked. She was airlifted to hospital where doctors informed her family she may not survive. 

Six months later Jessica was back in school writing exams competing on the track & field team.  Later that year, Jessica started a new pursuit, biathlon a sport that she took interest in during her long recovery.  Jessica went on to win a bronze medal at the 2006 Alberta Winter Games and competed at the National Championships in that same year.  Upon graduating from high school Jessica went to the University of Alberta earned an engineering degree and later found work at the University of Calgary as an MRI assistant. 

While in Calgary as an MRI assistant, Sevick tore her ACL playing soccer. A year after her surgery, she still wouldn’t be able to fully extend her knee and began to work closely with Roma Oleksyn – a physiotherapist and rower at the Calgary Rowing Club.  Upon Roma’s insistence Jessica came down to the rowing club for the first time in January 2015 and took her first stroke on the water in May of that year. 

Rowing was not a pursuit that came easily to Jessica which was attributed in part to a side effect  of poor balance resulting from her brain injury.  But Jessica persevered.  No matter how many times she capsized her boat Jessica was persistent in her pursuits.    By the start of 2016, athletes and coaches were taking notice of Jessica’s progress and then tragedy struck again.  Skiing with her boyfriend, Jessica fractured her tibual plateau in her leg which required surgery and months of rehabilitation.  Four months later Jessica was in the 8+ of Calgary’s Henley winning crew and in 2017 represented Calgary at the Henley Royal Regatta in Henley England. 

In the fall of 2017 Jessica moved to Vancouver British Columbia to pursue a Masters Degree and continue her pursuit of an Olympic dream but by December 2018 the dream looked to be almost over.  Officials from Rowing Canada  informed Jessica that she was no longer welcome to train at the High Performance Centre.  Jessica had other plans.  She returned to UBC and learned to row the single on her own time and as they say the rest is history.  She won gold at the Pan American games in the summer of 2019 and a short two years later was representing Canada in the women’s 2x at the 2021 Olympic Games. 

Jessica’s Olympic Experience in Tokyo did not end the way she dreamed and after some time away from the sport she made the commitment to return for Paris.  At the 2024 Games Jessica will be trading two oars for one with the goal of bringing home gold in Paris.

Kasia Gruchella Wesierski – Women’s 8+ –

Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski grew up as a competitive alpine skier but a broken leg ended her career and she thought she lost her chance at becoming a high-performance athlete.   But a second chance came when she found rowing. Friends with a fellow rower, Kasia showed up the club for the first time in March of 2014 and picked the sport up quickly.  By June of that year, Kasia was amongst the fastest sweep athletes in the club and represented Calgary in a women’s 8+ with eventual national team athletes Karen Lefsrud, Mckenzie Lukacs, Jessie Loutit and Helena Hlas.  The eight lost to a Craftsbury crew that year which was loaded with a number of international athletes but Kasia’s future was indeed bright.

Kasia returned the next year and was a part of a Calgary Women’s 8+ and 4- that won Henley gold in 2015 and 2016 and would go on to compete at the Henley Royal regatta in Henley England in 2017.  Following that 2017 year Kasia left Calgary to join the National Rowing Centre in Victoria and in 2018 joined up with Calgary athletes Colleen Nesbitt and Jessie Loutit for a World Cup in Lucerne Switzerland marking her first international regatta.   Kasia however was not selected to the 2018 World Championship team a few weeks later and returned back to Calgary to ponder her next steps.  By 2019, no one was holding Kasia back and she was named to represent Canada at the 2021 Olympics in the Women’s 8+

Six weeks away from the start of the 2021 Olympic Games Kasia was involved in a bicycle accident that required 50+ stiches and surgery to repair a broken collarbone.  Despite the setback and two surgeries later Kasia remained confident that she would at the start line in Tokyo.  The crew started the Olympics off slowly finishing in second place in both its heat and repechage but the Olympic final was one in which Canadian rowing fans will never forget.  The crew lead from start to finish winning Canada’s first gold medal in the sport of rowing since Canada Men’s 8+’s in 2008. 

Kasia is now back in the Women’s 8+ looking to defend her Olympic Title and become one of Canada’s most decorated rowers. 

Upcoming Events

Lakeland Camp July 19-21, 2024

Royal Canadian Henley Regatta July 28-August 4, 2024