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Whistler rowers enjoyed excellent summer

Harriman, Ziff now set to take on Head of the Charles
CELEBRATION TIME Maureen Harriman (left) and rowing partner Fran Tuite celebrate their win at the Henley Masters Regatta in the U.K. earlier this summer. <ParaStyle:CUTLINE\:CUTLINE Credit>Photo courtesy of Maureen Harriman

Two Whistler rowers have been winning all over the world this summer.

Maureen Harriman and Diane Ziff have taken gold at events in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Firstly, Ziff recently returned from the USRowing Masters National Championships, held in Grand Rapids, Mich. from Aug. 15 to 18, winning four medals.

Ziff brought home two golds, a silver and a bronze as part of her top performance at a regatta this season.

"At the other ones, I wasn't quite ready, but I was ready for this one so it worked out really well," she said.

Ziff's teammates in the four-women events stretched the continent, from Seattle to Philadelphia. She hadn't raced with any of them before and yet, they meshed quickly en route to gold.

"I've been doing it for 22 years now and you just get in the boat and you row. You don't practice," the 78-year-old said with a laugh. "There are teams there that row together all the time. And they train together.

"In my case, because I live here, there's nobody for me to train with and there are people who ask me to train with them, which was the case here.

"Because I've been doing this a long time, jumping into boats I know nothing about, you have a feel. Generally, I row with rowers who are very good, so you know that they're going to have pretty good technique. There's common ground that you find."

Harriman, meanwhile, completed two events in Europe this season, the first, in March, coming in Amsterdam, where she won the 2,500-metre as part of a four-person team.

She also competed in a "bucket list" event, the Henley Masters Regatta on the Thames River in England, eventually winning the knockout event in her two-woman boat with Chicago's Fran Tuite.

"When I rowed seriously, women weren't allowed to do that race, so I always wanted to race it," she said. "It was really great. They really know how to put on a race. There's such history there.

"The history of rowing in England is so long, and rowing on the Thames, there's just a whole other aura surrounding it. It's well respected. It's so historical."

Harriman said she was glad the other contending team, from the host country, was on the other side of the draw so they could only meet in the final. The teams turned out to be evenly matched.

"It was a really hard race. We just won by a foot," she said.

Afterwards, Harriman competed at the Cascadia Masters Championships in Vancouver, winning three golds, one individually, one in mixed and one in a two-woman crew. Also at Cascadia, local Janice Groff posted a fourth-place finish in a race, while Ziff took fifth in one event and sixth in another.

Harriman met her teammates for the European events at Head of the Charles in Boston, which she does every year and will head to again next month. She's been keeping in shape at her Ontario cottage, but recently returned to Whistler for the final preparations.

"It's a very different race," she said of the Head of the Charles. "The one in England was a 1,000-metre, head-to-head [race], so every round, you knocked somebody out."

Clocking in at 5,000 metres, Head of the Charles is a step up in distance from Harriman's prior events this year.

Ziff will also be attending the October race, and is eager to do some longer contests.

"It's a different type of training because you're not rowing as fast when you're doing 5,000 metres," she said.