Rain or shine, 15-year-old rower Elle Stephens is always on the water.
But at Elk Lake’s rowing facilities, athletes are becoming more worried about what they leave in the change rooms than what they leave on the water.
“This is supposed to be a safe place for us to keep our stuff,” said Stephens.
“No one else had anything else stolen that day, so I guess someone might have been watching.”
Elk Lake’s rowing change rooms are secured by a keypad, but even still, young rowers say they’ve faced a series of thefts over the last year.
They started initially with clothing, escalating to cash. But as Elle trained just last week, an irreplaceable custom family heirloom was stolen.
“My daughter just recently – I said you’re really on it, you’re responsible, I want to give you this ring, so we had it sized and she was all excited,” said Michelle Horman, Stephens’ mom.
In a rush from school, and unable to wear her rings while rowing, Stephens tucked the pieces of jewelry at the bottom of her bag.
But when she came back off the water, they were gone.
“All were really important to me, they had a lot of sentimental value,” said Stephens.
And with the thefts becoming seemingly more and more brazen, the family says it’s time for the rowing club to install lockers.
“The code hasn’t even been changed on the door. So there’s really no effort being made to make this safe,” said Horman.
“When something that large goes missing I think it’s time for a change to be made here.”
In the meantime, the family is hoping the sentimental jewelry will find it’s way home, no questions asked.
“Whoever wears it, is not going to be able to wear it for long without someone hopefully being able to recognize it,” said Horman.
“I really hope that whoever has this ring has some sympathy, and think about how they’d feel if that was them, and take it back.”
For Stephens though, it’s back on the water this weekend, rowing at Nationals against the best of the best across Canada – missing the silver ring of an oar – a reminder of her last year’s second place spot, but still aiming for gold.