International rowing is no day at the beach.
As soon as Staples High School ended in June, 3 Saugatuck Rowing Club racers left for junior national team training camps.
After intense workouts, they were selected to represent the US at the World Junior Rowing Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The next competition began immediately: for seats in the boat. That continued almost until the starting gun, for what was billed as the largest world rowing championship ever.
Their hard work paid off. Harrison Burke and Kelsey McGinley took bronzes in the men’s and women’s junior 4+ and 4-, respectively. Grace McGinley placed 5th in the grand final of the women’s 8+ event. All are Staples students.
Then the fun began.
As soon as they secured their boats, rowers from the many competing countries converged in a “mosh pit” near the finish line grandstand, to trade gear.
The Westporters returned home with uniforms and more from Holland, Britain, Germany, Chile, South Africa and more.
Rowers who had just battled head to head — at the highest level — smiled at each other, happily negotiating trades. Fortunately for our kids, US gear was hot.
Saugatuck rowers rise before dawn and train on the icy river — then go back to hit the gym after school — for many reasons.
Earning a place on the national team is one.
Becoming friends with competitors from all over the world — earning respect, and sharing their uniforms — is another.
Congratulations, Harrison, Kelsey and Grace. You’ve done us — and yourselves — proud!