Book a tour today

Genazzano's Road to Rio

27 Jul 2016
General

Congratulations to Genazzano Alumna, Sarah Banting (2011), who has been given the last minute call up for the Rio Olympics, as coxswain for the Australian Women's Eight. Both Genazzano FCJ College and Australia are cheering you on.

Read more about Sarah's journey as a rower at Genazzano, in this excerpt from the book, 30 Years of Rowing at Genazzano FCJ College.

Sarah Banting

As a child, Sarah Banting (2011) would get dragged from regatta to regatta to watch her older brothers row, something that fostered within her an intense dislike of the sport. So it’s quite a remarkable turnaround to find the now 22 year old selected as coxswain for the Australian Women’s Eights at the Rio Olympic Games.

Whilst the change from loathing the sport to loving it was gradual, Banting identifies the Learn to Row program at Genazzano FCJ College as an important juncture.

“I enjoyed playing netball, tennis and swimming in my younger years. But then I gave Learn to Row a go at the end of Year 8. When I started, I was a rower and at that stage I didn’t really understand the value of the cox. But because I was small I wasn’t given much choice! Luckily, within the first few weeks of starting, I really began enjoying the role.”

Banting is quick to point out that while rowing became an enormous part of her life during her school years, she never lost focus on her studies and the other co-curricular opportunities presented to her. Outside of rowing, Banting was a keen debater and flautist.

“I tried to involve myself in as much as possible so I was very busy, but that helped me become more organised as a student and in life. It helps when you move into adulthood and you’re trying to balance things on a much larger scale. I was quite heavily involved in music, and that stems from Years 5 and 6 where it is compulsory to learn an instrument at the College. After that period it becomes optional, however there are lots of different bands to get involved with – I was in a flute quintet. The College makes it possible to have a very well-rounded education.”

However, as her schooling progressed it became clear that rowing was Banting’s great love. She is grateful to Director of Rowing, Alastair Isherwood, whom she considered to be “an inspiration”, and David McGrath, who helped her excel past the school level of rowing. Both Isherwood and McGrath recognised Banting’s talent and invested many hours developing her coxing skills.

With rowing practice occasioning six sessions per week, Banting was advised to put the sport on hold to complete Year 12. Instead, she revelled in the additional activity and found that having to manage her time carefully was a challenge she delighted in. So much so, that she retained her rowing involvement and was dux of her year.

In fact, Banting states in reflection, “That kind of advice inspired me to keep rowing. I actually think the heavy amount of training made me more effective with my studies. I was confident that I could maintain academic excellence and rowing.”

Banting pays credit to the College for its support during that year and makes particular mention of specialist maths teacher, Mrs Urma.

“She looked after me really well and took me under her wing. She had taught me in previous years and we had a really great rapport, throughout Year 12 especially. I really enjoyed working with her.”

Banting says that through rowing she has met some of her closest friends, and admits she may not have forged those friendships had she not discovered a common love of rowing with the girls in the co-curricular program.

“Rowing is where I formed friendships with some of my best friends; you spend so much time training together. You become friends with people who you thought you might never cross paths with throughout school. But that’s the great thing about a sport like rowing; it brings people together from lots of different backgrounds.

“And it was the same with the flute too. I went overseas on the European Music Tour and that was another great opportunity to meet people that were very different to me.

“I really enjoyed all of those different aspects to school. It keeps it interesting and you meet so many diverse people.”

In 2012, Banting began a Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne while at the same time continuing to compete in rowing. In 2013, she won a silver medal for Victoria at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and also come second in the Youth Eights at the U21 National Championships.

Banting says that through rowing she has met some of her closest friends, and admits she may not have forged those friendships had she not discovered a common love of rowing with the girls in the co-curricular program.

Sarah reflects on what she has learned from coxing at an elite level that could apply to improving the output for future Genazzano rowers:

“There is a lot of time and money invested in the Genazzano Rowing program. On the national team the sacrifices made in order to compete are more extreme and so the sheer demand for perfection is enhanced. However, what I have learned in elite rowing that could be applied to Genazzano Rowing is that at the national level, both athletes and coaches enforce high expectations on each training session as well as each race in order to pursue the ultimate goal of achieving a medal.

“The amount of sessions and time we invest into training at the national level is extreme, and is the same amongst our competition. It is not something we can increase; it is therefore the quality of these hours that is most important.

‘Take more hard strokes than the opposition’ is constantly boomed to us through the megaphone by our coach. This could just as equally be applied to the approach to training for Gen crews.”

There is a lot of time and money invested in the Genazzano Rowing program. On the national team the sacrifices made in order to compete are more extreme and so the sheer demand for perfection is enhanced.