MANNING River Rowing Club will host the NSW Masters Championship this weekend for the first time since 2007.
Flooding rains in Grafton and Penrith saw Rowing NSW officials look for an alternate venue and Manning River was happy to oblige. Club official Hugh McLeod said that while the riverbank is wet, the club is otherwise well placed to host the championship.
Rowing begins on Saturday from 9am.
Nikki Swift, now from Newcastle Rowing Club had her introduction to the sport in Taree as a schoolgirl.
At the age of 12, Nikki started rowing when a roll call message asked for "tall year eight girls wanting to learn more about rowing to come to the gym at lunch."
Looking back at her first introduction to the sport of rowing, Nikki mentioned: "I forgot about it and had to beg my PE teacher to add me into the group the next day.
"We came down to Manning River Rowing Club on the weekend and I was hooked from that first row."
Nikki said it's been her sport of choice ever since she started.
Rowing for Manning River Rowing Club throughout school, she representing both the club and Taree High School through local, state and national regattas, Nikki's early rowing career certainly displayed her passion for the sport.
State and CHS quad wins in 1994 were highlights for Nikki as an underdog country kid racing against NSW Academy of Sport crews (now NSW Institute of Sport).
The thrill and success grew larger for Nikki as both herself and her sister travelled to New Zealand to race within a junior development squad in 1995.
At 18, Nikki moved to Sydney and joined Sydney Rowing Club. The change was influenced by Jo Croker, who had taken Nikki under her wing and introduced her to the coaches as part of their elite squad. Nikki's training ramped up and motivated her to strive for the best in both training and racing.
In 2001 Nikki secured a spot in the NSW Queen's Cup crew winning silver at the interstate regatta where she also joined the AIS for a brief period.
After a hard season of rigorous training, Nikki and her pair partner had unfortunately missed the selection for the Australia team, which saw her move back to Sydney Rowing Club at the end of the season.
"I decided that I needed to prioritise my education and stopped rowing for several years," Nikki said where her slight hiatus from rowing was reinvigorated when she joined Leichhardt Rowing Club in 2005 before leaving for a secondment to Hong Kong for three years.
"Three years of intense work and travel meant that I wasn't in a boat but with a change in companies I joined Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club into a star studded eight of ex-Olympians and Oxbridge rowers. It was a rather fabulous way to return to the sport."
Nikki's three years in Hong Kong turned in to 11.5 years of a "life, kids and rowing," making way for an abundance of exciting opportunities to see Asia. After her family's return to Australia in 2018, Nikki joined Newcastle Rowing Club.
Now as a Masters rower competing with Newcastle Rowing Club this weekend, Nikki is as excited as ever to be back on the Manning to get into some racing.
Did you know? Manning River Times online subscribers not only have 24/7 access to local and national news, sport, what's on and entertainment - they also have access to our print edition in digital format, with all the advertisements and classifieds at their fingertips.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.