We see them on the river — at dawn, after dusk and in all kinds of weather. The women, men, girls and boys of the Saugatuck Rowing Club are some of Westport’s most accomplished — and unheralded — athletes.
Last weekend, SRC rowers competed at the youth national championships in Sarasota, Florida. One boat earned a groundbreaking gold. Here’s proud mom Debbie McGinley’s report:
Parents and athletes landed at JFK near midnight Sunday after an adrenaline-filled finish to the USRowing Youth Nationals. Earlier in the hot day — as spectators cheered and coaches biked madly along the course — the Saugatuck Rowing Club women’s youth 8+ crew surged ahead of the field to win a club history 3rd straight national title.
The SRC women pulled even with the crew from Marin, California at 500 meters, took the lead at 1000 meters and powered ahead to finish in front by 3 seconds.
Sunday’s win capped a 3-year undefeated run, during which it 3-peated youth rowing’s triple crown: the Head of the Charles Regatta, San Diego Crew Classic and Youth National Championships.
A June rowing event in Florida brings weather-related challenges. Thunderstorms caused practice times and races to be postponed, sending the SRC rowers scrambling to a local gym for an impromptu spinning workout.
Sunday’s finals were condensed so crews could pack up their boats, load their trailers and clear the course before more thunderstorms arrived.
SRC’s experienced rowers had seen it all before. The group includes 2 USRowing women’s junior national team members; one who medaled at the World Junior Rowing Championships in August, and USRowing Fan’s Choice Junior Athlete of the Year.
The 6 seniors on the winning boat include 3 from Staples High School. This fall they head to great colleges: Grace McGinley (Stanford), Imogen Ratcliffe (Cal-Berkeley) and Willemijn ten Cate (Princeton).
Two other Staples students joined them: junior Kelsey McGinley and sophomore Noelle Amlicke.
In addition to the winners, SRC — under junior head coaches Sharon Kriz and Gordon Getsinger — had 4 other Top 10 finishers.
All were inspired by texts from younger rowers back home.
On Monday morning — after just 4 hours of sleep — the rowers headed back to school to prepare for finals, or to their senior internships. Today — after a marathon drive by their coaches pulling trailers back from Florida — the rowers return to the club.
They’ll unload and rig their boats, then hit the water again.
After all, there are many more races to win.
The SRC women’s 8+ winning race begins below at 2:31:30.