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australian rowers profiles and history

Carol Cooke

Yarra Yarra Rowing Club (VIC)

Member 2001 - 2008 

McVilly-Pearce pin no 741 (for an adaptive four in 2009 world championships. (Mixed LTA4+))

Recorded wins:-

2007 - National championships, adaptive double scull (bow)

2007 - M U B C mini head regatta, female “D” four (stroke)

2007 - Colac regatta, female “C” four (stroke)

2007 - Head of the Yarra, female “C” eight (4)

2007 - Nestles regatta, adaptive scull

2007 - Hamilton regatta, female “C” eight (4)

2009 - Rutherglen regatta, female “D” quad scull (stroke)

2009 - National championships, adaptive double scull (bow) 

From the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club newsletter the 'Yarra Yabbie' 2007-7-20 issue 96

My new life of rowing

Little did I know back in December of 2005 when I attended a Paralympic Talent Search Day that it would change my life drastically!

A few weeks after the day spent at the VIS I received a letter from the Paralympic development officer stating that he would like me to take up the sport of rowing. I had always been used to being in the water and not on top of it as I had been a swimmer all of my life. Due to the Commonwealth Games being held in Melbourne I was unable to take a learn to row course with Yarra Yarra until June of 2006 and when I did undertake the course, it was a miserable wet and cold couple of weekends! Yes I was used to being wet, but at least the water in the pool is heated!

Unfortunately I was unable to continue in the development squad as MS reared its head and put me in hospital for 3 months. But upon my escape from Epworth in December 2006 I came back to the boat shed to continue my new found sport of rowing and Sally Shaw kindly offered to take me under her wing and coach me.

I was talked into competing at the Nationals which were held at Nagambie in March and low and behold my partner Fiona Munn and I won the double scull in the Adaptive category.

I was then invited to yate part in a National Rowing camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in June and I readily agreed. Little did I know what I was getting myself into! Upon arrival at the airport on the Sunday I was whisked to the AIS, told to change into training gear and immediately put through a classification test. This tells officials what category/ classification you fit into as an Adaptive rower. There are 3 classifications, arms only (A), trunk and arms (TA) and legs, trunk and arms (LTA) and this is the class I fit in. A couple of hours later I was then allowed to check into my room for what was to be an amazing week. 

Each day we were up at 5am, shower, have breakfast, head to the boat shed on Lake Burly Griffen, ½ hour warm up on land, 2 hours in a boat on the water, back on land to cool down, either lunch or a lecture back at the AIS, back to the boat shed, ½ hour warm up again, 2 hours in a boat on the water, back on land cool down, back to the AIS for recovery (1 minute in a hot tub, 30 seconds in an ice cold plunge pool – back and forth 6 times). Dinner, meeting with coach to view to film footage of the day’s rowing and then….. Finally to bed. I think I was before my head hit the pillow! We did this Monday to Thursday and as Friday was the last day we only had the morning sessions to contend with. But I must say it was a bit chilly on Friday morning. -4 with steam coming off the lake. I was wearing 3 layers with a fleece vest and beanie and after 12km I hadn’t even broken a sweat!

After the first day, I just kept thinking “how the hell will I get through this week” Not just managing my MS symptoms but I was certainly feeling my age for once! There were athletes of all disabilities, from limb loss, celbral palsy, intellectual Disability and Paraplegia to name a few and I am sure they were feeling the same as me.

But getting through it I did and by the end of the week I was feeling extremely fit and was getting through the days quite easily. It was amazing being at the AIS surrounded by elite athletes. Meals were certainly interesting standing in line with 7 foot tall basketballers and 4 foot nothing gymnasts! We would sit each meal and try to pick the most famous athlete!

 This week has given me some great goals to look forward to achieving and I have learnt the tools to do it. My first goal is to get in better shape and get my rowing up to scratch. The second is to make the team to travel to Munich next May to qualify for the Paralympics in Beijing in September (first time it will be included in the Paralympics). So I have lots to look forward to.

I also received some very exciting news at the end of June when I was offered a yearlong VIS scholarship and I feel very privileged to have been given this chance. It will certainly help me to achieve my goals. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people involved at Yarra Yarra Rowing Club for all the assistance you have given me in helping me to get to where I am. I can now only give it my best to attain the next level.

2005 - Caroline Cook in right at YYRC regatta helping with catering

Jim Skidmore
June 2024

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