During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Casie and Kaelyn Gauthier made a life-changing decision – they were going to become Olympians. The question was ‘what sport?’. They laugh about the conversation now, but it really came down to wanting to get back into competitive sport in Manitoba. So their search began, and the sisters came across the exciting world of Rowing.
In fact, they came across the exciting program put forth by Rowing Canada and the Manitoba Rowing Association called Row To Podium (http://www.rowtopodium.ca/) where identifying and developing Canada’s next gold medalists is the goal. As they investigated further, they felt rowing was definitely a sport for them – they might just be the ideal candidate and athlete for the RTP program. So they contacted Rowing Canada to find out more.
Rowing Canada put the Gauthier sisters in touch with the Head Coach for the Manitoba Rowing Association, Brent Figg. In the Fall of 2013 the sister duo started fitness training and on-water skill development. Always in competitive elite level sports, this training regime was something new all together.
“We couldn’t believe how difficult the Schwin five minute bike test was! It was sooo hard!” says Casie, thinking back to their initial testing. But once they found out their results, they knew they had found their new passion in sport.
In October of 2013, Peter Shakespeare of Rowing Canada came to Winnipeg to explain the program to the sisters and see if they were up for the challenge. Both sisters jumped at the chance – this is exactly what they had been craving!
Starting late in the season made them push even harder. On water training was intense as they only had a month left before the snow would come. A large adjustment, they found themselves having to push like never before. But by November they were attending their first National Row To Podium Training Camp on the west coast. They were immersed in the sport of Rowing and loving every minute of it.
“All the coaches at the camp were so passionate about the sport,” says Kaelyn, adding “they all want to make you the BEST rower you can be.”
This intense training allowed them to really delve into the community of rowing, and they felt welcomed and supported from the very beginning. They truly felt part of the team.
Over the winter months the dry-land training was intense. With 90 minutes of cardio workouts on the bike six days per week, as well as ergging and weight lifting workouts, the sisters were training on average 18 hours per week.
The spring has allowed them for more technical work on the water, and a great break from the bike! The sisters are training six days per week on the water in both individual and team workouts. Ergs for fitness, weights and on-water technical work make up on average 20 hours training each week.
But these sisters don’t stop there! Kaelyn graduated this spring from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor degree in Kinesiology, and Casie is right behind her graduating in December from the same program. Coupled with working part-time, the Gauthier sisters dream of more sleep!
In terms of goals, this sister duo have their eyes set on the prize. Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. In the meantime, they are setting strict goals for timing for the 2K race at the end of the summer months. The friendly competition between these two allows for them to push each other while at the same time have a ton of fun training and competing.
“The mental side of things is the hardest part about being a rower,” says Casie. Constantly having to push yourself outside of your comfort zone while staying focused on the technical side of the sport can be challenging.
“Brent (Figg) is a great coach in those tough times! He always knows exactly what to say and when to say it to keep us strong and motivated,” say Kaelyn.
The Gauthier sisters are truly loving this exciting, learning experience in Rowing. The love the challenge while learning something new and testing their physical selves. With such dedication and talent, these two athletes are going to rise to the top!