The 2019 NSW All Schools and Combined High Schools Canoeing Championships were held from May 25 - 28.
It attracted students from 26 schools.
The Great Lakes team travelled first to Grafton, competing on the Clarence River for the flat-water events.
In both the U14 and the U16 age groups students from Great Lakes College claimed second and third place in the 500m Sprints.
Camden and Dylan Ceccato won silver and bronze in the younger, Jock Sweeney and Max Hamilton in the older age group.
Sophia Sweeney, representing St. Claire's, achieved a fantastic third place in the All Schools category.
Highlight of the day was the win of Brady McNeil over one of the most experienced State paddlers in the 500m Sprint event.
This special triumph was particularly impressive as Brady entered the State stage for the first time.
Unfortunately, it was also his last time as he will be sitting his HSC this year.
Brady and Camden also won gold in their respective Open and U14 5000m race.
After a successful and exhausting day, the competitors moved on to set up camp at Hanging Rock on the Mann River for the upcoming events.
Despite very low water levels due to another dry summer, the course designers were able to set up a slalom course in the narrow channels between smooth rocks.
Once again the Great Lakes paddlers made their way onto the podium.
Brady and Jock won CHS silver and Dylan CHS bronze medals.
Jock also won silver with Max Hamilton in the U16 C2 event.
The sibling combinations also proved to be the right choice by the students' coach Phil Koch in the other C2 events.
Brady and his younger brother Luke, as well as Camden and Dylan, medalled and Jock and his sister Sophia made third fastest time in the Open Mixed group.
For the Slalom team events on the next day gates were modified to make the course more challenging.
Again, the Great Lakes paddlers had a fabulous time and amazing runs down the river.
At the end of the Slalom Teams section of the championships, they took three more gold medals.
Team Brady/Luke/Dylan won the Open K1 event, team Jock/Max/Camden won the U16s and the exciting C2 team event had all six male Great Lakes College paddlers on the water at the same time, making their way through the 16 gates in between the tricky rapids.
The Whitewater Sprints followed and many more medals were secured.
In their canoes, Jock, Camden and Dylan reached second and third places in their respective age groups, Brady and Max won the Open C2 Sprint and Sophia just missed the podium with fourth place in both the Canoe and the Kayak events.
Brady won CHS silver in the Open K1 event, Jock bronze in the U16 age group and Camden and Dylan placed first and second in the U14s.
By day four of the State Championships, the athletes were giving the last of their efforts.
After three energetic, passionate and exhausting days of competition, the Wild Water long distance race was still to come.
Due to the low water levels, the 3km course was shortened to 1800m, a welcome change for some competitors.
Jock and Dylan finished third in their age groups, Brady won silver in the Open and Camden took two more gold medals home in the U14, one for his DRR race, one for the U14 C2 race with his brother Dylan.
Brady and Luke as well as Jock and Max both won silver medals in the Open and U16 C2 events.
Youngest paddler in the team, 10-year-old Maxim Ceccato from Forster Public School, showed consistent skills and stamina throughout the competition.
He had to compete in the U14 age group, however, he still made fifth and sixth fastest time in most events and showed great team spirit and enthusiasm in the C2 and the team events.
Casino High took the All Schools and CHS shields home this year, beating Great Lakes only by a few points but the Great Lakes paddlers are determined to win them back and put them onto their own shelf next year.
If you are interested in joining this sport or having a try, please contact Phil Koch on 0401615312.
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