Skibb rower (22) excited to row with experienced international Denise Walsh
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
LYDIA Heaphy is determined to make the most of her first European Rowing Championships.
The 22-year-old Leap woman has been selected to partner the experienced Denise Walsh in the Irish women’s lightweight double in Lucerne.
Heaphy and Walsh are two of five Skibbereen Rowing Club athletes being sent to the Europeans that run from May 31st to June 2nd. Gary O’Donovan (lightweight single) and twins Jake and Fintan McCarthy (lightweight double) will also be in action.
When Heaphy started rowing she looked up to former European single silver medallist Walsh, who is four years older and is heading into her sixth year rowing at senior international level.
‘Denise has a lot of international experience and I want to learn as much as I can from her,’ Heaphy said.
‘The Europeans are a great chance for me to race at senior level because I have never done that before. But Denise has. And she has raced a lot of the athletes that we will be racing so she will know a lot about their style and how they race.
‘She has been involved in the High Performance team for years and she has been in high-pressure situations that I haven’t been in. I can learn from her how to cope and deal with the pressure of a championships like this.
‘Even if it’s about managing weight. As lightweights we have to be 57 kilogrammes and Denise has been racing at that weight for a long time, so I can learn how she manages to keep weight. She has so much knowledge of the sport.’
Heaphy competed at the World U23 Rowing Championships in Poland last summer where Maraget Cremen and herself finished 11th overall in the lightweight double. This is the Skibbereen Rowing Club woman’s first year at senior, and along with Walsh and Aoife Casey (who rowed together at the 2018 senior worlds), Heaphy is battling for a place in the Irish lightweight double this year. She found out last week that she was being sent to the Europeans with Walsh.
‘I’m excited to go out there and see how we will do,’ Heaphy said.
‘In a way we have no expectations on ourselves because we have never raced as a double before and we have never trained in the double before.
‘We were only in the double last week and this week and then we are racing, so there is not that much expectation on us, so it’s a chance to go out, enjoy it and see what the big dogs are like at senior level.’
Camps in Seville (Christmas and February) and Varese in Italy (April) went well. Quality training. Lots of mileage. Rowing Ireland lightweight coach Dominic Casey teaching and watching. This is Olympic qualification year and an Irish lightweight women’s double could be added into the mix. Heaphy,Walsh and Casey are the three in the reckoning – but no one knows what will happen after the Europeans.
‘I have no idea what’s going to happen. We will take it day by day. We will have trials in June and see how they go. They (Rowing Ireland) will make a decision then and we will know more after that,’ Heaphy explains.
‘It’s good that they are sending a double to the Europeans. This is one of the most competitive events that there is and there are only seven spots to qualify at the world championships this year so you need to be at the top of your form and you want to make sure you have the fastest boat there.’
Heaphy, a law student at UCC, previously represented Ireland at the 2016 Home Internationals in a single scull – but now she’s ready to pull her first strokes at senior level next week.