Irish visitor acclimatised

The Otago University club’s senior women’s pair, Caoimhe Dempsey (front)  and Sydney Telfer,...
The Otago University club’s senior women’s pair, Caoimhe Dempsey (front) and Sydney Telfer, compete at the Canterbury championships last month. Photo: Sharron Bennett
Choppy water and warmer temperatures are two things Caoimhe (pronounced Queeva) Dempsey was not used.

She has learnt to contend with both though, which may be useful at this weekend’s South Island rowing championships at Lake Ruataniwha.

The 23-year-old arrived from Ireland in September last year and has been rowing with the Otago University club.She and Sydney Telfer make up the club’s senior pair.  Gabby Hunter and Josie Cook join them in the senior four.

On top of that she is working as a research assistant in the developmental psychology lab at the university.

"It’s been really good," the Ireland under-23 rep said.

"It’s been good work experience. It’s taught me a lot about what I do and the rowing here’s been really good."

Originally from County Wicklow, Dempsey attended Trinity University in Dublin.

It was there she took up rowing.

What initially started as a fun thing to do quickly became a major focus.

She became "obsessed" with making the top eight to race in the colours race —  contested by Trinity and University College Dublin.

"I was just like ‘this is what I’m going to do’.

"I trained really hard and got my seat race. I won it and got into it.

"Then I’m like ‘what’s the next thing?’

"I needed a goal to work towards. I saw how hard I worked if I had a goal to work towards.

"The training’s not very nice — you get up in the morning and it’s freezing cold at home and raining all the time.

"It’s hard to do that unless you have something to train for."

Dempsey trialled for the 2017 home international regatta, in which Ireland raced crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

After being selected for that she went to the European under-23 championships, followed by last year’s home international regatta.

She decided to take a year off, rather than jump straight to Cambridge to do her master’s.

That led her to New Zealand, where she has family living in Central Otago.

Dunedin rowing coach John Parnell is an extended family member and it is with him  she is staying.

She was enjoying the university club as it was an easy way to meet people in a new place, she said.

Rowing on the harbour was a big change, particularly given conditions meant you had to be flexible in terms of training.

Being able to adapt on the fly had been a challenge mentally, especially when it meant doing an extra session on a machine.

The club suited her as a sweeper although that too had presented its own challenges.

"I’m learning a lot of new skills. I’m rowing pairs and fours here," she said.

"We steer from stroke here, the stroke person, that’s me, has the steering on their foot.

"At home the bow person at the end of the boat does that, so I’ve never done that before."

She leaves at the end of next month after the national championships, where she will return to race the Irish summer season.


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