It’s the end of January and Patrick Keane can’t wait to get back on the water.
The Grade 12 St. Andrew’s Regional High student and View Royal resident has been champing at the bit to put his oars in the welcoming Gorge Waterway after a winter break from waterborne training with the Victoria City Rowing Club.
At least one thing helped ease the anxiousness: last weekend in Vancouver, Keane accepted Rowing Canada’s Jack Guest Award as the top junior sculler in the country for 2014.
“It’s like, motivating and it’s good to see I’m progressing. It motivates me to be more successful,” he says. “It’s nice to have some recognition towards my hard work, and it definitely makes me want to work harder.”
Keane, 17, is long and lean, standing six-foot-one and is carrying a shade under 73 kilograms on his frame. “That’s my winter weight,” he says, noting that he has kept busy doing dryland training.
The men’s lightweight limit is 72.5 kg – that’s his official category in men’s competition – but Keane assures he’ll be down to about 71.5 when he hits his racing trim.
After this Sunday’s University of Victoria Monster ERG/Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships, it’ll be back into the boat.
Among Keane’s accomplishments last season, he finished second in the U-19 men’s single final, competing against university rowers, and was fourth in the U-23 lightweight men’s single final at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
He added a third-place finish in U19 men’s single the National Rowing Championships on Elk Lake last fall, a win in the Rowing Canada spring trials regatta in Burnaby last spring and a gold medal in the U-19 men’s singles at the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association championships competing for St. Andrew’s.
Involved in the sport since he was in Grade 8, Keane said he appreciates the training he received at St. Andrew’s and is grateful to have been able to work with and learn from Vic City coaches Pat Newman and Aalbert Van Schothorst, who moved on to become head coach of UVic’s men’s team last fall.
Seeing fellow club members go on to excel at nationals and, in some cases, qualify for the Olympics, has helped inspire him over the years, Keane says.
“It’s really cool to (train with) all the other bigger athletes and see them move on,” he says. “I sort of carried on their traditions. It’s great to be part of a club like that. You just don’t stop working, it just gets you going and motivates you.”
Keane, also a top student academically, has a couple of oars in the water in terms of his university options for next fall.
“We’re thrilled at how hard he’s worked and created these opportunities for himself,” says Patrick’s father, Shane. “I hope I don’t jinx it, but I think he has a fair shot at the Olympics.”
Patrick, who represented Canada at the junior world championships in 2013, hopes to wear the red and white again this season. He is looking to get out to a quick start for 2015, having front-loaded his course schedule at St. Andrew’s to have a little lighter academic load during the spring outdoor season and leading up to graduation.
“I just put in the hours and manage my time the best that I can,” he says. “Right now (I’m) just focusing on going fast.”