Forster brothers Camden, Dylan and Maxim Ceccato and former Great Lakes canoeist, Jock Sweeney, have returned from the 2020 Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Age Championships with newfound confidence after facing the merciless challenge of Tasmania's Mersey River.
The event was held in Tasmania's north-west from January 3-5.
Fourteen-year-old Camden was the best performer in the age championships, enjoying a great second run to finish 16th in the U16s and 38th overall.
Younger brother Dylan finished 41st overall, while Jock Sweeney, competing in the U18s, finished 32nd overall.
The boys also enjoyed great results on the team race day, with Camden and Dylan partnering up with experienced veteran, Gary Nelson, in the K1 team event and coming away with the third fastest time in the Open Men's category.
Jock, partnering up with Remy and Michael Taylor from Big River Canoe Club, competed in the same event, registering the fastest time through the 18 gates in the Open Men's and the second fastest time overall.
His team was awarded a silver medal - a result that Jock was understandably pleased with.
"I really enjoyed my time on the Mersey River," he said.
"I've come home gaining lots of experience and a silver medal."
Apart from competing, the boys also enjoyed a day of preparation and training in the lead up to their events, which helped them come to terms with the fast flow of the river and the challenging rapids it presented.
They trained with NSW team coach, Emir Mujcinovic, a former Croatian Olympian, and gained a lot of confidence in the process.
At 10, Maxim particularly enjoyed training with such renowned paddlers and was presented with a Paddle Australia shirt by world champion, Jess Fox, for being the youngest paddler at the event.
Mother of the Ceccato boys, Ariane, said it was a great experience for her sons.
"They feel extremely happy that they got the chance to train and compete on whitewater at the Mersey," she said.
"They improved their skills and soaked up the special atmosphere of the National Competition stage.
"They felt honoured to be part of Team NSW."
With the event behind them, the boys are already looking forward to the upcoming regional and state championships, putting in extra training at One Mile Beach in an attempt to make up for the lack of rapids in the Great Lakes.
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