History was made at Brentwood College School last Saturday as nine former Olympians and national team members spanning three decades of graduating classes and eight Olympics rowed one boat to victory in the second annual Brentwood-Shawnigan Alumni Duel.
“It was fun, but it was also historical,” longtime Brentwood rowing coach Brian Carr said. “It’s something that might never repeat itself, having three Olympic golds, and three Olympic silvers over the span of eight Olympics in one boat, all from one high school.”
Brentwood has sent 24 graduates to the Olympics, including 22 rowers, a remarkable legacy.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find another high school on this planet that can beat that,” Carr said.
The Olympic eights last Saturday included cox Tan Barkley (graduated 1983), a 1984 Olympian; Blair Horn, (1979), a 1984 Olympic gold medalist; Malcolm Howard (2001), a 2008 gold medalist and 2012 silver medalist; Dave Ross (1981) an Olympian in 1984 and 1988; Darren Barber (1987), a 1992 gold medalist and 1996 Olympian; Spencer Crowley (2007), a senior national team rower in 2013; Dave Calder (1996), an Olympian in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, winning silver in 2008; Pat Walter (1977) an Olympian in 1984 and 1988; and Scott Frandsen (1998), an Olympian in 2004, 2008 and 2012, winning silver in 2012.
The fact that such a storied group from such a long span of time was willing to come back and race for their high school shows the stock that graduates put into Brentwood’s rowing program.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” Carr said. “It’s a real testament to the program we’ve created here. To come back and get to do it again is very special for these alumni.”
The day also included senior boys and girls races, both won by Brentwood over Shawnigan. In the showcase race, the “Olympic eight” edged the other Brentwood alumni boat by a nose, with the Shawnigan alumni placing third. The Olympians had to overcome equipment issues in their race, as Crowley came out of his seat early in the race, then later dropped his oar, but they managed to prevail.
“The young guys [non-Olympians] were really giving it to win that,” Carr said. “They just got tipped at the end.”
While none of the rowers in the other boat had been members of the Canadian senior national team, they weren’t without their own accomplishments.
“They were all guys who were solid Brentwood varsity rowers,” Carr said. “They were solid first eight guys when they were here. Some of them continued rowing after high school in university, but none of them were senior national team rowers.”
This is the second year the two prestigious private schools have held the alumni race. Next year it will be hosted by Shawnigan, and Carr expects them to put together a similarly well-decorated crew, as 2016 will be the school’s 100th anniversary.
“If they put together the same kind of thing that we did, I’m looking forward to getting some of these kids back,” he said.
Carr believes the Alumni Duel will get bigger with time.
“It can only grow,” he said.” “This is the type of sport where you can come back. You don’t have to do a lot of training to do a 500-metre rowing race.”
The races were followed by the christening of two shells: the J.L. Queen II and A.C. Carr VI, named for longtime Brentwood coaches John Queen and Tony Carr, co-founders of the Brentwood Regatta, and coaches of nearly all of the school’s Olympians.