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The Mackay Rowing Club might be a small club, but there’s nothing small about its achievements.

Mari Simmonds, President of the Mackay Rowing Club and a 15-year enthusiast, embodies the club’s spirit of perseverance and passion. Starting her rowing journey at 52, Mari’s story is a testament to the club’s welcoming ethos.

“It’s never too late to start something new,” Mari shared. “Rowing is a whole body, high energy, low impact exercise, doable by most people.”

With just 32 members the Mackay Rowing Club is small yet mighty. Its members, bound by a shared love for rowing, meet three or four times a week in the serene pre-dawn hours. They row a picturesque 10-kilometer stretch from the bridge at Pleystowe to the weir at Balnagowan, a route Mari describes as “like paradise, just us and the platypus”.

The Club has experienced many highlights in 2023. At the Queensland State Master Titles in May, four members came away with 4 Gold, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze Medal. At the National Tiles held at the Sydney Olympic Rowing venue the same group brought home 2 Gold and 2 Silver medals. At the final regatta for the year, the North Qld Championship regatta at Riverway in Townsville, the Club made an impressive showing, winning 18 medals in total.

These achievements are noteworthy considering the club has had to overcome challenges such as lacking a full-time coach and financial constraints.

The club’s recent success owes much to the expertise of visiting coach Richard Powell, an ex-Olympian, from Brisbane.

“His coaching transformed our approach. He brought a level of skill and motivation that we hadn’t experienced before,” said Mari.

The club’s efforts were also recently recognised at the North Queensland Sports Awards, where their Masters Sculling Mixed Quad won the NQ Sportstar Senior Team of the Year.

Looking to the future, the club is enthusiastic about its international endeavours, with a group set to participate in the World Rowing Championships in Germany in 2024.

As the club seeks major sponsors for 2024, it simultaneously opens its doors to new members. A ‘come and try’ day in 2024 is in the works, offering an open invitation for people to experience the joy and benefits of rowing.

“We’re always here to welcome new faces. Our club thrives on fresh energy and enthusiasm,” said Mari.

“We’re a small club, but our heart and dedication to rowing are limitless. We’re not just rowing; we’re building a legacy.”

Find out more on the club’s Facebook page.

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