Students Take the Water at Lake Barrington

23 April; Pat Cialdella and Brendan Parnell

Late last month, 20 University of Melbourne students competed at the Australian Rowing Championships, held at Lake Barrington, Tasmania. Considered one of the best (and most scenic) courses in Australia, our students had the opportunity to row at a venue which has previously hosted the World Rowing Championships in 1990.

Our student-athletes performed favourably across the week-long championships, with solid performances in the under 21 and under 23 events particularly.

Gold medal performances by University of Melbourne student-athletes included:

  • U23 Women’s Coxless Four: Eliza Gaffney (Bachelor of Biomedicine)
  • U23 Men’s Coxed Eight: Thomas Page (Alum, Bachelor of Science)
  • U21 Men’s Coxed Four: Fraser Miscamble (Bachelor of Biomedicine)
  • U19 Men’s Coxed Eight: Joe Bryant (Bachelor of Commerce)
  • U21 Women’s Coxed Four: Hayley Verbunt (Bachelor of Commerce)

Other highlights included:

  • Thomas Page winning gold and Fraser Miscamble winning bronze in the under 23 Men’s Eight, racing in different Melbourne University Boat Club (MUBC) crews
  • Aaliah Dawson (Bachelor of Arts) and Katerina Bitzios (Bachelor of Design) both winning silver in the under 21 Women’s Coxed Four
  • Fergus Ellis (Alum, Bachelor of Agriculture) and Thomas Page winning silver in the Open Men’s Eight
  • Brigid McKeagney-Douglas (Bachelor of Science) taking bronze in the under 23 Women’s Coxless Four, while another MUBC crew also took gold in the event
  • Sophie Walmsley (Alum, Bachelor of Agriculture) taking bronze in the lightweight Women’s Scull
  • Louisa Bongrain (Bachelor of Science) winning Bronze medals in the single, double and quad u21 Scull Championship finals

The regatta culminated on Sunday 27 March, with the Interstate Regatta: Australia’s premier rowing event. Nine students/alum/club members were selected to represent the State of Victoria in Interstate events, with five athletes selected into the King’s Cup and Queen’s Cup eights – the most senior boats in the Interstate team.

Fraser Miscamble won gold for Victoria in the Noel Wilkinson Cup for Interstate Men’s Youth Eights, in a crew comprised entirely of MUBC athletes. The win was the first for Victoria since 2014. Aaliah Dawson, Louisa Bongrain, Hayley Verbunt and Katerina Bitzios competed in the Bicentennial Cup for Interstate Women’s Youth Eights, finishing second behind Western Australia. Milla Marston (Master of Engineering) and Sophie Walmsley competed in the Interstate Women’s Lightweight Quad Scull.

Biomedicine student Eliza Gaffney was selected into the Queen’s Cup crew. Competing in its 100th edition, Victoria took out Australia’s blue ribbon women’s rowing event in convincing fashion, leading the entire length of the course comfortably. The Victorian crew won by a margin of 2 boat-lengths clear water, 11.16 seconds ahead of NSW in the silver medal position.

Gaffney found the experience of being selected into the Queen’s Cup crew for the first time as incredible. “I feel incredibly grateful to be part of a crew with eight other very talented and highly decorated athletes and to win the race made it even more special. Everyone was committed to putting everything out there on the day and stamping our authority on the other states - particularly NSW!”

For Eliza, like many student-athletes, the past year has been a challenge balancing her study load for biomedicine against full-time rowing commitments. “Admittedly, it has not been easy to keep up full-time university while training to the extent I currently am”, she stated. “The support I have received through the University’s Elite Athlete Program regarding academic flexibility has been invaluable. However, studying is also a welcome chance to switch off from rowing during the day and keep balance in my day-to-day life.”

The Victoria Men’s Youth Eight, comprised entirely of MUBC athletes, poses with the Noel Wilkinson Cup

Above: the Victoria Men’s Youth Eight, comprised entirely of MUBC athletes, poses with the Noel Wilkinson Cup.

Doctor of Medicine alum and 2016 Olympic Silver medalist Josh Booth was selected into the King’s Cup VIII crew alongside four other MUBC athletes. The crew defeated perpetual rivals NSW by just 0.16 seconds, pipping them on the 2000m mark for a photo finish.

After the race, Booth commented on the successful campaign to reclaim the cup back.

“We were rowing against a very strong crew; we’re two very strong states; we put it all into the first kilometre and had to back ourselves into a corner – we felt like we were the underdogs. We executed our race plan, had a couple of young guys in the boat that brought some good belief and brought a lot of energy – it paid off, it felt like we hung on to it by the skin of our teeth”.

Overall, it was a highly successful regatta for University students, alumni and club members, with five gold medals, seven silver and nine bronze medals. MUBC finished fifth in club standings from 159 competing at the Championships.

Victoria’s Queen’s Cup crew celebrate a dominant victory in the 100th edition of the Queen’s Cup

Above: Victoria’s Queen’s Cup crew celebrate a dominant victory in the 100th edition of the Queen’s Cup.

The final club standings, and details of MUBC’s performance at the Australian National Rowing Championship, can be found here:

Replays of the Sunday finals races, including all Interstate Regatta events can be found here:

More information about MUBC can be found here:

UniMelb Athletes Earn National Squad Selection

After the National Rowing Championships and Trials, the following University of Melbourne students have been selected into the National Under 23 and Under 21 teams:

U23 Men’s Coxless Four: Finnan Colley (Bachelor of Science)

U23 Women’s Coxed Eight: Eliza Gaffney (Bachelor of Biomedicine)

U23 Women’s Coxed Four: Phoebe Georgakas (Alum, Bachelor of Science)

U23 Men’s Coxless Four: Thomas Page (Alum, Bachelor of Science)

U23 Lightweight Women’s Quad Scull: Sophie Walmsley (Alum, Bachelor of Agriculture)

U23 Women’s Quad Scull: Eleanor Price (Alum, Bachelor of Science)

U21 Women’s Quad Scull: Louisa Bongrain (Bachelor of Science)

U21 Men’s Coxed Eight: Fraser Miscamble (Bachelor of Biomedicine)

MUBC Coaches Matthew Ryan (U23) and Zachary Smith (U21) were appointed as coaches with the National Junior teams.

UniMelb Athletes Earn National Squad Selection


After the National Rowing Championships and Trials, the following University of Melbourne students have been selected into the National Under 23 and Under 21 teams:

U23 Men’s Coxless Four: Finnan Colley (Bachelor of Science)

U23 Women’s Coxed Eight: Eliza Gaffney (Bachelor of Biomedicine)

U23 Women’s Coxed Four: Phoebe Georgakas (Alum, Bachelor of Science)

U23 Men’s Coxless Four: Thomas Page (Alum, Bachelor of Science)

U23 Lightweight Women’s Quad Scull: Sophie Walmsley (Alum, Bachelor of Agriculture)

U23 Women’s Quad Scull: Eleanor Price (Alum, Bachelor of Science)

U21 Women’s Quad Scull: Louisa Bongrain (Bachelor of Science)

U21 Men’s Coxed Eight: Fraser Miscamble (Bachelor of Biomedicine)

MUBC Coaches Matthew Ryan (U23) and Zachary Smith (U21) were appointed as coaches with the National Junior teams.