A paddling powerhouse is springing to life on the banks of Patterson River. Patterson Lakes Canoe Club has evolved over time since its formation in 1966 and ‘made a splash’ recently with a series of successes.
Arriving as just a beginner 18 months ago for a ‘come and try’ session, Max Nikolic, 12, progressed quickly with the support of coach Steve Vegh. This culminated in victory at this year’s Victorian Championships in the doubles event with partner Bradley Buissink, also 12. Max also placed second in the singles event.
Training four times a week and having fun too, the duo went on to compete at the National Championships in Adelaide, placing first together in the doubles and Max placing eighth in the singles.
Mr Vegh is full of praise for the pair. “They are both very talented young guys dedicated to training each week and it was a big boost for our juniors,” he said.
At the same event, paracanoeist Dean Garo won the 12km marathon event. It’s not the club’s first success in paracanoeing, having coached members on to the international and Olympic stage, with a very notable silver medal won at Rio in 2016 by Amanda Reynolds.
“We have been coaching members with disabilities for years, helping to build their confidence and improve their co-ordination,” says Mr Vegh.
He puts their success down to the club’s prime location on Patterson River, an on-site gym, and coaching staff focused on refining technique. “It has to be a structured training regimen where you are constantly pushing your body.”
From juniors to seniors, the club caters to different capabilities and interests, which even includes dragon boating for breast cancer survivors. “We can get you to an Olympic level and equally cater to someone just looking to enjoy paddling recreationally.”