Growing up on a mixed farming property an hour out of the central Queensland town of Dingo, the Sypher sisters didn't know much about the sport of rowing, but now they're competing with the best in the world.
Gracie, 20, and Laura, 18, attended boarding school at Rockhampton Grammar School from grade seven to 12, and it was there that they took to the water and neither have looked back since.
Currently living in Sydney and training at the Sydney Rowing Club, the sisters have made some major moves in the sport this year, with Gracie recently returning from the World Under 23 World Championships in Varese, Italy, and Laura coming home as a Henley champion from the Royal Regatta in England.
After a stacked heat, Gracie battled the nerves to get through the repechage and semi-final rounds to progress to the A-final of the lightweight single scull, where she placed sixth.
Gracie said she was thrilled with her debut performance at an international competition.
"I had a poster on my wall since I made the Aus team and my goal was to get into the A final and try to do a time around a 7:44 and that kind of came into my mind as the Chilean sculler was coming at me with 250m to go," she said.
"I think it came down to about 0.2 of a second for that race and I'd also done a time of 7:40, so I'd smashed my goals.
"That race was probably the highlight of my season I'd say, just being able to really push myself and get into the A final, everything else was a bonus for me.
"To be mixing it with the girls that had raced overseas multiple times before and make a final in my first year, I was absolutely stoked."
Laura has also made a name for herself on the world stage, winning the junior womens double category at the Henley Royal Regatta last month.
"It was such an amazing opportunity," Laura said.
"From finishing school last year, moving down here to row and going to nationals where I was then invited to the Aussie trials, but I just missed out there.
"So then to have Henley as another opportunity to keep training after nationals, for me the experience was so worthwhile.
"It was amazing, just the crowd and the atmosphere itself, it just brings racing to a new level."
Laura is currently completing a bachelor of speech and hearing science at Macquarie University, majoring in speech pathology, while Gracie is studying exercise sports science at Australian Catholic University, tossing up between a major in physiotherapy, nutrition or medicine.
Both girls said that, at first, rowing was a way for them to "get out of the dorms," but they quickly developed a passion for the sport and knew that they wanted to pursue it after graduation.
"Gracie started as a way to get out of the dorms on weekends, to fill time in basically, and I did the same thing," Laura said.
"I saw how much fun she was having, so I just wanted to give it a go and I fell in love with it.
"From about grade 10, I had an amazing opportunity to do some composites at Nationals, and from there it really opened my eyes to what is available with the rowing.
"From there I realised that I do really want to continue it because the opportunities are endless."
Laura said competing in a double with her sister at the New South Wales state championships earlier in the year was a highlight for her.
Coming from a rural background, Gracie said the support of their family and local community, as well as the opportunities offered at boarding school, were major influences in their sporting success.
"If you asked me when I was halfway through high school, I never would have thought I would be living in Sydney," she said.
"I remember going to my first nationals when I was 14, and rocking up to the course and seeing the Olympic rings on the bridge, I was pinching myself, and now to be doing that every week, it puts it all into perspective and I think wow, I've come a really long way.
"It's funny to think that I had absolutely no idea what rowing was and there's little kids there now that would have no idea what this girl from Dingo is doing."
Talent clearly runs in the family, with younger sister Gabby also rowing in the St Margaret's first VIII at the BSRA Head of the River later this month.
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