Tranining with crocodiles – Australia U19 teams

“Redlynch State College” rafting crew from Far North Queensland, Australia, will have the honour of representing their country in Brazil at the R4 World Rafting Championships. They will be representing the U19 women’s and men’s divisions.

Aus group college 1Alice Wedmaier – will introduce us to her team and the men’s team and help us to find out more about these brave girls and boys before we see them for the first time on the world rafting stage.

“U19 Redlynch Girls Team: Lucy Edington Chapman, Carina Nixon, Alice Wedmaier, Emma Sandilant; sponsored by: Remote Build Queensland.”

“U19 Redlynch Boys Team: Mitchell Nightingale, Chad McKay Joel Harm, Jayden Ala ; sponsored by: Super Global Services and IZMER Marine and Diesel Services.”

Aus coach“I would like to also mention our wonderful coach! Sam Johnson.” – adds Alice – “He has been a river guide for close to 10-15 years and he has also competed in multiple rafting world championships. He is a teacher at our school teaching Physical Education, Maths and Outdoor Recreation. He has spent a lot of time away from his understanding family to come rafting with us. He is extremely committed to us doing well and he deserves to be mentioned in this article even though he will probably get up me for saying this but we are so grateful for his dedication and he deserves to be mentioned!!!” – Its always good to mention and thank a trainer who is worthy of it. – “We would also like to give a huge thank you to Mark Shergold from “Adventure Equipment” in Cairns who has helped us to purchase our gear and has given us extremely good prices to fit into our budgets.” – Certainly a big thank you for helping these young people.

So, Alice, tell us, how did you and your teams start with this sport?

Aus girls paddling“Three of us started in June of 2013 paddling with our coach in a mixed team for a fun event in Cairns just to introduce the sport to our school. Also a few of us in 2013 were doing rafting as a part of out outdoor recreation subject (also taught by our coach, Sam Johnson). After that competition we decided to make 2 teams – a girls and a boys ream, R4 (4 paddlers). We had to recruit different people from our school to fill the teams but everyone came together extremely well because we are all such good mates. ” – That is a always a good way to start – to train and have a good time at the same time.

Aus boys paddlingAnd what training do you do?

” We have been training hard , but at the start of February we were flat water training in the lake at the bottom of the rapids where we train and we saw a crocodile (Far North Queensland is known for crocodiles) ” – Upss…Crocodiles?! Not so long ago we had a photograph on the IRF FB page of a bunch of crocodiles in a lake and we asked who’d paddle there and no one answered. But it seems you could have said yes!  But, weren’t you scared?  –“We didn’t really think much about it but then we saw it again so we had to tell the school, and they stopped us rafting there until the crocodile has been caught and removed from the lake. The crocodile has not been removed yet so we have been training at the cable ski artificial lake just to keep our strength up. We have been given permission from the school to go down the rapids and get out just before the lake. We are working on removing the crocodile but because far north Queensland is known for crocodiles there are many to remove and we are not at the top of the list at the moment. ” – Wow, the situation is serious! This is the first team that I have talked to who have a “crocodile” problem. But I see that they know what they are doing and that all precautions are being taken.

Aus girlsWe can see that the school takes care of these young people. I’m interested in how it works to synchronize obligations to the school and training? 

“Our coach has had to write up endless risk assessments to even be considered by the school to be able to participate in this sport. Every time we go rafting he has to submit a risk assessment and now that there is a crocodile in the lake he has had to do even more. It has also been hard with sponsorship because all money that we receive we have to go through the school and that also includes a lot of paperwork and time. ” – Hard work. But through it you can see the determination, enthusiasm and dedication these young people bring to this beautiful sport.

Do you follow what’s happening in the sports rafting world? Do you watch video clips on how others paddle?

“We try to follow the sport as much as possible to gain more knowledge of the sport but it is hard because we are so far away from the rest of the world being in Australia. We have some amazing rivers here but where we live there is only one (it is also the one the ARF are using for the Australian Nationals) and the nearest is 3 hours away. We have mainly been watching slalom videos because we find that technique the hardest to master. ”

Is there a particular discipline that you enjoy the most? 

Aus boys“The discipline that my team enjoys the most would be the slalom courses. We like it because it is the most challenging and we are getting better at it. Our expectations of the WRC’s in Brazil are high and this has motivated us to train even harder to achieve this goal. ”

Mitchell Nightingale, Alice has introduced your men’s team to us, but what are the disciplines that your team enjoys, and what are your expectations from the competition in Brazil?

“We’ve been enjoying the head to head discipline as it allows us to show our skill and strength as well as endurance when on the water. Our expectations of Brazil are very high, we’ve been watching the videos from the previous years and know that the competition will be fierce but we are going to push ourselves and hopefully place at Worlds.” – We wish you all the best in Brazil.

Alice, you have the honour to represent your country and enter into the history of the sport of rafting as the first female and men U19 teams that will go to the World Rafting Championship from Australia. How do you feel about this?

Aus paddling“We are absolutely privileged to even think that we might even have the chance to represent our country in such a diverse sport. It has always been a dream of ours to wear the green and gold colours and it would give us such satisfaction to compete for the first time for Australia being a junior female team. The boys have had a lot more competition but they have extreme strength and have a lot of determination. We are all excited to see what the future bring for us.”

I hope that their teachers, parents and all others will continue giving support to these young people who are preparing for this great event, and that sponsors will take a chance and through these boys and girls advertise all over the world. We invite all those in Australia who are willing, and able, to help these girls and boys because Australia should have representatives in these categories, and these young people deserve it.

But they are currently facing new problems.

“Our school’s budget has just been cut in half “ – says Alice – ” so we are also fundraising to help the outdoor department raise money to buy equipment for the school such as rafts, helmets and even little things like throw ropes, which as you know do not come at a cheap price. ”

So, let’s help them .

To contact them about anything such as sponsorship or questions, you can email coach Sam Johnson and take a look at their school facebook page. The Australian Rafting Federation’s facebook page is another place to get information about this sport.

Their thanks go to:

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And we hope that we will see them soon competing in Brazil and in the meantime we welcome them into the world of sports rafting.

Article by Nada