A celebration of schoolgirls rowing

In February, Clarendon hosted a Celebration of Schoolgirls Rowing to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the first winning Clarendon girls Head of the Lake crew. The event, held at the Clarendon boatshed, saw many Old Collegians and past coaches return, including guest speaker, Tania Coltman (1988). Tania rowed in the girls’ firsts crews in 1986 and 1988 and is the former Deputy Chief of Staff for The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, Minister for Women.

“For me, rowing started in 1984 when I was 14,” said Tania. “At the time, I really didn’t appreciate that it was only the fifth year that girls would have the opportunity to row. Stepping back to the big picture, it is such a credit to all involved that I never really considered myself anything other than a rower. Not a girl rower, but a rower.”

The event also saw the return of members of the winning 1981 crew, otherwise known as “the real trailblazers”, Elizabeth Kelly, Katrina Lewis and Susan Walker (Peacock). Upon reflection of her own Clarendon rowing career, Tania realised that she too was a “trailblazer”, having been only the 20th girl to row in a Clarendon firsts crew.

Although her crews never won a Head of the Lake, Tania acknowledged that winning was not why she (and many of her peers) desired to row.

“Rowers learn so much of life’s valuable lessons,” said Tania. “Setting a goal and developing a plan to get there, working with others and getting the most out of everything you do, and most importantly, the power of perseverance”.

The power of perseverance certainly prevailed during the 2021 Head of the Lake. It seemed only fitting that on the year of the 40-year anniversary of the first winning Clarendon girls Head of the Lake crew, the Open Girls 1sts, 2nds and 3rds won their Head of the Lake races and, of the 175 rowers this season, more girls than boys competed. In another milestone for Clarendon, for the first time in thirty-one years, the school won both the JH Netherway Cup (Girls Premiership Trophy) and the Harold Deveson Cup (Boys Premiership Trophy).

“What a legacy for the hardworking and supportive early-adopters from 40 years ago, and everyone who has supported schoolgirls rowing along its journey,” said Tania. “As with life, even when we fall short, we often can look back and think we achieved so much more than we ever thought we could.”

Congratulations to all of the Clarendon rowers, coaches and families – and the rowers and coaches of all participating schools – on their efforts in making the 2021 Head of the Lake Regatta such a success. It also important to thank the girls’ crews of the past for creating such amazing opportunities for our current rowers and providing the inspiration needed to get them over finish line this year.

Simone Byrne (Titheridge), Tania Coltman and Janine Balharrie (Hornbuckle)