When Bridgette Hardy decided to take up rowing, no-one, including herself, knew what would come of it.
A spontaneous decision that would involve Bridgette and her mum driving from Mount Macedon to Melbourne early every Sunday morning for two years, turned out to be a life-changer.
In August, Hardy will be one of the eights team to represent Australia at the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hardy remembers the strange reactions she got when she decided to pick up the oars in year nine.
“I wanted to try a new sport and I thought about doing rowing,” Hardy said. “It was a left-of-field sport and everyone was saying ‘you can do netball instead’.
“I didn’t think I would last that long.”
It has been a whirlwind time recently for Hardy, who is now studying year 12 at Geelong Grammar.
“At school we had heard chatter that other coaches were talking about us and possibly being involved with the junior state program.
“They wanted all eight of us [from the school team], but only five of us decided we wanted to be part of the state team, so we had to do individual trials.”
All five girls were selected and in the space of two weeks were in Sydney competing against other state crews for the right to represent Australia.
“We had to make [a qualifying] time,” Hardy said. “In the final, we didn’t make the time but we had made it in a previous race, so we were [still] hoping we got picked.
“Rowing Australia turned us down and we thought we weren’t going [to Rio].”
The team appealed and won and is now busy training for the championships.
“Monday to Friday, I train with the girls from Geelong Grammar doing land, ergo and weights sessions. We alternate weekends between Melbourne and Geelong.
“Right now, technically, we need to work on getting better as a team. Individually, we are really strong. At the moment we’re looking at a podium position.”
Hardy is hoping this is the start of her rowing career for Australia. She plans to improve her chances by attending school in America when she finishes year 12.
“I’m looking into schools … they are really strong and have rowing programs. Hopefully, it’ll put me in a position to row for Australia.”
The crew is looking for donations to help the young rowers get to Brazil for the championships.
“It cost $8000 per person,” Hardy said. “We are looking to raise $25,000 between us to help pay for the trip. So far it is at $2000.”