YOU don’t stop rowing because you get old, you get old because you stop rowing.
That’s the philosophy anyway of the oldest competitor in the Lake Moodemere regatta at the weekend.
Neville Howell, 84, a former Olympian, did not hesitate to claim rowing had kept him the body of a 20-year-old.
Mr Howell, who is now a member of the Nagambie rowing club, won bronze in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Even though he has competed at one of the highest levels, he said he still enjoyed competing on Lake Moodemere.
“I love the country atmosphere at this sort of regatta,” he said.
“You still have the competition but you get to meet old friends which is another thing that keeps you rowing.”
Mr Howell said the regatta had improved since he first competed in 1948, two years after he took up rowing as a sport.
“I remember the lake used to be just full of leeches,” he said.
“They’d all be sticking to your legs, I don’t know how they got rid of them.”
Murray Rowing Association President Paul Sommerville said it was Australia’s oldest rowing regatta.
“The number of competitors has certainly grown over the years and this year is the second largest we’ve ever had,” he said.
The 148th regatta had more than 650 competitors from Corowa and Rutherglen, Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Wentworth and Adelaide.
Mr Sommerville put the regatta’s success down to the atmosphere of the place.
“It’s such a great day because you have competitors and spectators all in a small area, which creates a great atmosphere,” he said.
“The race is only a short distance as well, so it makes for a lot more excitement because the competition is closer.
“In a lot of regattas you certainly don’t have the bush either side of the water.
“And the water is a lot calmer.”
Among local winners was Amy Underwood, 16, of Corowa Rowing Club, who won the A grade female single scull.