Young guns into Australian U21 Rowing Squad

We caught up with Alex Clarke (OB 2014) and Ben Canham (OB 2015) to hear about their journey to selection in the Under 21 Australian Rowing Squad.

After starting at BGS in Year 5, Alex completed Year 12 in 2014. He commenced rowing at BGS in the 10B crew in 2012. He was a very tall and not particularly coordinated rower in his first year. He rowed in the 2nd VIII in Year 11 and, the following year, in the 1st VIII, which finished in 3rd place at the Head of the River. After finishing school, Alex immediately joined the Mercantile Rowing Club.

Ben arrived at BGS in Year 6, completing Year 12 in 2015. Ben rowed in the 9As in 2012 and the 10As in 2013, before taking a year’s break to focus on basketball outside school. Missing his old crewmates, he rejoined rowing in Year 12, competing with the 1st VIII, which finished in 3rd place at the Head of the River. Ben holds the record (in recent years) on the rowing machine, with a time of 6:09 for 2000 metres. After finishing school, he took a short break from rowing, getting back in the boat in 2016 with the University of Melbourne Rowing Club, before switching to Mercantile Rowing Club.

Both Alex and Ben took their school rowing experience and trained hard, rowing in different pairs. Under expert guidance, they quickly went from strength to strength. Intense training and a clearly defined path revealed just where their hard work might take them. The possibility of rowing for Victoria and even Australia arose after consistent competition results.

Amazingly, the boys only got in a boat together two weeks before trials for the Nationals. However, their shared BGS background made for a fairly smooth transition and they achieved a best time and 2nd at trials, and 4th in Australia at Nationals – against pairs that had been rowing together for months or more! This has secured them both a place in the Under 21 Australian Rowing Squad.

Since selection, Alex and Ben have been training in Melbourne. In June, they will be in Sydney for a training camp, before heading overseas to take on New Zealand in August. In between training sessions, both boys are studying Industrial Design. We wish them all the best as they look to Tokyo in 2020.