VICTORIA – Two current and two former members of the UVic Vikes rowing program will get the opportunity to represent both UVic and Canada at the highest level possible when they compete in the World Rowing Championships, taking place Sep. 24-Oct. 1 in Sarasota-Bradenton, FL.

Current Vikes Patrick Keane and Taylor Perry are making their senior World Championship debuts at the event, though both have represented Canada at multiple junior and U-23 World Championships.

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Keane. “There are no restrictions, I get to race everybody and this could literally be Olympic qualifiers so it’s a pretty proud moment for me and I’m excited to see what I can do.”

Perry is also relishing the opportunity to compete for his nation at the highest level possible.

“The first time you go to represent Canada it’s an incredible honour and something that you are very aware of, could also be your last time, so you don’t want to waste it,” said Perry. “At the Senior level if you come first that is the top, and there is nobody else out there that can challenge you for that spot. I can now have a direct comparison with top competitors and figure out far I have to go to be one of the best in world.”

Keane is competing in the lightweight men’s double with heats running on both Sunday 24 and Tuesday 26, before the semifinals on Thursday 28 and the finals on Saturday 30.

Perry will be racing alongside Vikes alumnus and 2016 Olympian Kai Langerfeld in the men’s four. Like the men’s double, the men’s four will be competing on the 24, 26, 28 and 30 of September.

Becca Zimmerman, a recent graduate from the Vikes program and long-time staple in the stroke seat for the Vikes eight, will race in the same boat for Canada in Florida.

Zimmerman and the eight boat are in action for heats on Tuesday 26 before either an ‘A’ final or a ‘B’ final on the Sunday, Oct. 1.

Sequestered in Welland ON, for a ten-day training camp prior to leaving for Florida, both Keane and Perry point to the work of a heavy course load as something that helps them shift their focus from the grind of being a world-class athlete.

“I’m always in pursuit of a challenge so having work to do and a shift in focus away from competing allows me to decompress,” said Perry.

“Logistically there are time-spreads and things that keep me accountable but the major thing is that it has to be driven by myself,” said Keane. “You can’t have people holding your hand everyday because if you need that then you are not that invested.”

Having to deal with some earlier uncertainty around the event due to Hurricane Irma, both Keane and Perry are now focused and poised to take on the best in the world in the red maple leaf of Canada before returning to the blue and gold of the Vikes.