USRowing Nationals took place from July ninth through the fourteenth. The athletes who went had trained for the three weeks prior to the event nearly two times a day. “ We wanted them to experience training at a higher intensity level, and wanted to help them understand the impact of that on their nutrition, sleep and recovery. They also got the opportunity to row in smaller boats (2-, 1x) which is harder to do logistically during the school year,” Eliza Dickson, Sammamish Rowing Association’s Junior Program Director, said.
Alec Willett, Ethan Currie, Anna Barry, and Eliza Dickson coached twenty-four junior athletes, who all had to apply for the training camp during their spring season. Coach Dickson said she, “really enjoyed watching the group come together as well as seeing how the athletes took ownership of the experience . Regardless of results, it is also gratifying to watch them learn so much in such a short period of time.” Many of the athletes were seen coming to the boathouse early before many of their double practices to get in extra work. Their dedication to training was remarkable. “They did an amazing job,” Dickson added, “many of our athletes did seven 2k races in three days. That’s like an entire season of spring racing!”
Junior rower, Eli Rubenstein, noted how difficult but gratifying the long weeks of training were. He said, “During the weeks of training before USRowing Nationals it was extremely difficult waking up early and practicing in a variety of boats six days a week, which introduced me to a whole new type of training that pushed me to new limits. Alongside the long morning water practices- the land days three days a week were very difficult. With all these practices a lot of food and sleep was needed, but in the end all the hours were worth it.”
Many of the rowers had their own reasons for doing the camp, but Rubenstein said, “I decided to do this camp to have an opportunity to get more one on one time with the coaches so I could build relationships with them early on. One of my main goals personally for this camp was to improve my rowing technically so I can have the best chance possible for the upcoming season. This experience helped me as a rower to really advance my rowing to another level, be able to compete against the fastest nationally, and also mentally be able to push myself beyond limits I didn't know existed.”
Philip Popa, a junior coxswain of the group, also gave insight on to why he did the camp. “I wanted to gain more racing experience,” he said. “More than that, I also wanted to gain an overall feel for how the experienced boys’ team functions, since I will be joining them in the fall. As far as racing was concerned, I just wanted to place as high as possible, and be able to say after the regatta that we did our best whatever the results ended up being.” Popa and Rubenstein were both on the Junior Boys Novice team last fall and spring and will now be on the Experience Junior Boys team.
Even though the training was long, difficult, and tiring, the athletes still had plenty of fun. Rubenstein commented on one of his favorite memories during the trip to Ohio. He said, “One of my favorite moments was the day raced in the Semi-Finals for the U17 4+. Going into this race our whole boat were novices and had the least amount of experience. We were given a speech from Coach Liza and Ethan before our race that opened up our eyes to a whole new world. They told us we were the future of Sammamish [Sammamish Rowing Association], and this race was for us to push our limits more than any other. Our race was the hardest we had ever pushed ourselves and because of that a sense of pride comes to me. Although we didn't qualify for the Grand Finals we did our best and learned a lot along the way.”
Whether or not our juniors got a medal- they all came away from USRowing Nationals with successful accomplishments. From pushing their limits, forging new relationships, and discovering their unbounded potential- every junior rower has a reason to be proud of their performance in Ohio. Sammamish Rowing Association did however take home a second place finish in the Women’s U19 2- Final, and second place in the Women’s U19 4- Final. Congratulations to all of our athletes for your amazing growth, development, and success during USRowing Nationals training and the regatta!