The Summer of Owen
Owen Bartel is having the summer of a lifetime.
The Eden graduate completed his high school rowing career with gold medals in the single and double at the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association championships, represented Canada in the double at the 2019 under-19 world championships in Varese, Italy, and this week he is a member of Team Ontario competing at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.
“It has been a lot of fun,” the 18-year-old St. Catharines native said. “Obviously we have done fairly well.”
It is a far cry from two years ago when Bartel and his fellow rowers were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were rowing and just practising. It is a bit busy but it’s nice to finally race and get some international experience.”
In Italy, he and fellow Niagara athlete Lucas Maroney combined to win their heat and quarter-final before placing 11th overall in the men’s double.
“It was pretty cool and kind of overwhelming. I didn’t know what to expect and Lucas hadn’t represented Canada before as well. Going into it, it was good to have someone else who hadn’t gone through it. We learned a lot,” Bartel said.
Those lessons will be invaluable as he hopefully moves forward in his rowing career at the international level.
“There are a lot of fast boats. In Canada, there are fast boats but when you get there, every single boat is world class. You just have to push through.”
Bartel feels he has improved a lot in the last year.
“It’s being able to push the boundaries. On an erg in your basement, it is kind of tough to push past what my high school coach (Mike Petrychanko) calls the pain cave. You just have to push farther into the pain cave and by yourself it is a little tough. Once you have some fast boats beside you, it is a lot easier to push past the point where it starts to really hurt.”
Bartel created opportunities for himself this spring and summer by following Petrychanko’s instructions and working out diligently every day.
“I knew at some point the racing would come back and it was kind of that light at the end of the tunnel.”
At the Canada Games, he is competing in the open double and the quad. Those boats both won their heats to advance to the finals.
He is enjoying the entire Games experience.
“It has been pretty cool staying at Brock (in the Athletes Village) with all the other sports teams and getting to watch all the other sports.
His favourite moments have been hanging out with his teammates and playing some of the games that are available to the athletes at Brock.
“We were playing this volleyball game last (Wednesday) night and it gets a little competitive, but it’s fun.”
When the summer is over, he is heading to the University of British Columbia to row and study.
“The academics there are high and obviously they have a really solid rowing program. It is the best of both worlds,” the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder said. “Rowing and practising with those guys is going to be great and hopefully I can make the under-23 national team next summer. That is my next goal.”
He has had plenty of motivation in 2022 to reach that next level.
“I think it has been the whole summer, being able to do the Canada Games and my first world championships.”
The rowing finals at the Games are being held Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon.