The heat was intense and the competition fiercer than any she'd ever faced, but these same factors helped Wendy Orman push her paddling to the next level at the International Dragon Boat Federation World Nations Championships in Thailand in August.
It was the Great Lakes' school teacher's third time representing Australia in the Women's Senior B team, and despite the challenging conditions, it was undoubtedly her most rewarding.
"I honestly went to that next level," she said.
"I've never felt that. It was the best paddling I've ever done."
Wendy won gold in the 200m and 500m small boat ladies' races, and bronze in the 1km and 2km standard boat ladies' races.
Her medal in the 1km race was particularly sweet, as she stepped up into the Women's Senior A team and paddled alongside (and against) women 10 years her junior.
"That was an amazing race," she said.
"It was one of the hardest races I've ever done."
Wendy credited the week the team spent training and acclimatising to the gruelling tropical conditions as a big contributor to their success, along with the months of training they undertook in the lead up.
The level of competition was also something that had to be seen to be believed.
"The standard of paddling, it's not something you ever come across," she said.
"The competition was really high."
She said the support her and fellow Great Lakes' paddler Peter Reed (who represented the Men's Senior C team) received from the Great Lakes Pearl Dragons while they were over there also helped bring out their best.
"They gave us so much support," she said.
"They're all thrilled to bits."
Back home now, Wendy admitted it was a bit of a comedown from the elation of competing at such a high level, but already she'd turned her focus to her next series of challenges.
Chief among these is the goal of qualifying for the NSW team later this year, as well as putting on a strong performance for the Pearl Dragons at the Great Lakes Regatta in November.
"You've got to look for that next goal," she said.
"It all begins again."
Peter Reed is still on holidays in Thailand and was unable to be contacted for this article.
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