Caitlin Dace: A Guiding Force Behind St Mary’s Rowing Success

The legacy of rowing coach, Caitlin Dace, the driving force behind St Mary's Rowing Team's athletic excellence is not just in the wins achieved, but also in values instilled, doors opened, and the enduring spirit of excellence she imparts to each athlete she guides. All photos: Supplied

In the world of rowing, where precision, teamwork, and strategy converge, Caitlin Dace stands as a beacon of leadership. Her coaching achievements with St Mary’s Rowing Team reflect a remarkable journey marked by resilience, strategic prowess, and a passion for nurturing excellence.

With an impressive win rate of 16 out of 22 races, Dace has not only shaped victories but has fostered an environment of continuous success. A string of nine consecutive wins under her guidance showcases her ability to instill consistency and dedication within her scholar athlete’s team.

St Mary’s boasts a unique distinction with three athletes winning the Boat Race three times in consecutive years. Names like Alexandra Savenye-Terblanche, Caitlin Bentley, and Daneila Price-Hughes echo through the annals of rowing history, each contributing to the legacy that Caitlin Dace has helped cultivate.

The 2012 Filippi boat, named after Mount Olympus, carries symbolic weight, tying the team’s success to the birthplace of Greek gods, and the year South Africa secured its first Olympic Gold medal. In the late 2000s, St Mary’s experienced rerows, with one resulting in victory and the other in a silver medal – a testament to Dace’s adaptability and coaching finesse.

Beyond victories, Caitlin Dace’s impact extends to international representation. Twenty-four athletes from the last two decades of the Boat Race have proudly represented South Africa, with two Olympians and one Youth Olympic Games participant emerging from St Mary’s ranks. Notably, four athletes have clinched medals at World Championships, adding further luster to Dace’s coaching legacy.

St Mary’s success transcends the racecourse, with athletes securing scholarships to prestigious institutions like Yale, Princeton, Michigan, Dartmouth, Harvard, Louisville, Washington, Clemson, Brown, and Oxford University in England. Dace’s leadership not only shapes victories but opens doors to higher education and broader horizons for her athletes.

In Caitlin Dace’s coaching philosophy, the journey doesn’t end until the boat is back in the boathouse. It’s a commitment to seeing the process through, emphasizing teamwork and cohesion. Her coaching journey began in 2011, where she achieved an outstanding 10 out of 12 victories in her inaugural year.

Dace’s advice to aspiring coaches resonates: “Always expect the unexpected.” It encapsulates the dynamic nature of rowing and reflects her ability to navigate challenges with grace and determination. Her love for coaching shines through as she describes the magical experience of preparing a crew in a short time, fostering confidence, teamwork, and camaraderie.

Caitlin Dace’s leadership has not only transformed St Mary’s Rowing Team into a powerhouse, but has left an indelible mark on the sport. Her legacy is not just in the wins but in the values instilled, the doors opened, and the enduring spirit of excellence she imparts to every athlete she guides.


Photo Caption: All photos: Supplied

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Launched in 2006, gsport exists to enhance the commercial prospects of our women athletes, and other women in sport, by telling the inspiring story of SA women in sport. Thank you for your contribution!

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