Rowing pushes upstream at Liberty

Karinn Sytsma, Editor in Chief

“On a really nice day, the water is like crystal. When the blades feather across the water, it’s the best sound in the world. I love it,” freshman Lucy Hegenderfer said.
Many Patriots, like Hegenderfer, find themselves swept up in the new craze of women’s rowing.

“I started rowing February of my junior year,” senior Nicole Winters said. “I wanted an active, new sport, and I just stumbled upon it. I was walking through a park in Renton and the Renton Rowing Club was practicing there, and it was just fitting.”
As opposed to other sports, where athletes begin at a young age, many Patriot rowers have started rather recently. Sophomore Ella Gage began rowing this summer.
“It was a new sport I’d wanted to do for a long time, especially after reading Boys in the Boat, which is about the UW rowing team going to the Olympics,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh this is a thing I could do!’”
Rowing requires a lot of commitment, with daily practices year-round. Winters begins her practices at 3 in the morning, working out with her stroke partner, then practices with the team until 6. Junior Anna Bartholet practices after school, but no less rigorously.
“We practice year round, five times a week, three hours a day. Other sports do it too, but rowing’s commitment is near the top, and I like the challenge,” Bartholet said. “I think it’s uniquely physically challenging.”
Like Bartholet, Gage enjoys the exercise from the physically demanding sport. She is also excited about the opportunities that rowing offers.

“There are tons of scholarship opportunities, which is part of why it was such a good option in the first place,” Gage said. “You hear of girls going into colleges never having rowed in their entire lives, coming from a background in running or track, and they end up with full ride scholarships because there’s such a high demand for women rowers.”
Winters has certainly taken advantage of the opportunities presented by rowing; she will be attending Fairfield University in Connecticut next year as a member of its rowing team.