The last several weeks of selection have been stressful—but I survived. Tired legs, sore ribs, stiff back, mentally exhausted, but hey, I survived.
I made the lineup for the Women’s Four headed to World Rowing Championships. As with any team selection, the outcome is always bittersweet. The “sweet” part is obvious… I will participate in fun team activities, represent my country, travel to New Zealand and race down the course in a hunt for a medal. The “bitter” part is that many friends and training partners who did not make a boat going to New Zealand will remain at camp. There are only so many seats in a boat, and only so many boat entries in the regatta. Specifically, in my position, starboard, there are only seven positions available at World Championships. I consider it an enormous privilege to be a member the 2010 Worlds team. Phew.
Now to Memory Lane…
Nine (gasp!) years ago I raced the Women’s Four at the 2001 World Championships in Lucerne, Switzerland. I had just graduated from the University of San Diego in June of that year and was bright-eyed, nervous and very green. That summer’s experience in the 4- was instrumental in preparing me for rowing the pair in practice following Worlds, and ultimately provided critical experience needed to make the Women’s 8+ the following three summers (2002, 2003 and 2004).
The two words that best described my rowing style back in 2001 were “raw power” (and not much finesse). It’s funny how today my role in the 4- is both the same, yet totally different. It’s different because I am now the veteran of the boat. In our 4-, I am the only person who has raced more than one World Championship regatta, the only Olympian and the only person over 23 years old (!). However, my role is similar to 2001, as even with years under my belt, I am still a “power rower” and my new teammates depend on my strength to get us off the starting line quickly and into a relentless rhythm down the racecourse.
Fitting into the role of a veteran has been interesting over the past several months. In some ways it comes very easily to me—be a positive influence, act as a sounding board for teammates, and provide perspective in stressful situations. I enjoy these assumed responsibilities, and stepping away from competition for six years seems to have amply prepared me for the new team dynamic even more so. Truthfully, I am enjoying the process even more and am PSYCHED to race! I am so lucky…and yes, I do receive my fair share of well-deserved “granny in the boat” jokes. The regatta this year will be raced on Lake Karapiro, New Zealand (NZL) during the first week of November.
The group of American women heading to race at the World Championships are phenomenal athletes—and fighters—and I could not be more proud of our team. However, I do want to emphasize that there is a strong, talented, resilient group of women who are staying behind and training at the Princeton Training Center. These women will undoubtedly be gunning for their shot at the team next year. The march to the London 2012 Olympics will be tough!