In 1980 at ten years old I had both a dream and a vision; to one day become an elite rower. Passing Princeton University's Lake Carnegie each morning on the school bus was the gift that kept on giving. Every day en route to school I watched in awe as the Princeton and CLRA crew teams raced by with our bus struggling to keep up with them. I knew just then what my future would hold. I saw myself in those very boats and by hook or by crook I would eventually turn my childhood dream into a reality.
A New Focus On Rowing That Required Sacrifice
Two years ago I graduated Carnegie Lake Rowing Association's Learn to Row Masters Program and it has been "game on' ever since. A competitive athlete all of my life, I knew that I was up against well seasoned rowers and knew that if I wanted to make the "A" team in a hurry, that I had to bring my "A" game with me. I had to learn fast and work feverishly. I fell deeply in love with the sport jumping in head first, sacrificing what I had built for years in other sports from tennis, running, golf, dance and even as an equestrienne. Since then, my life outside of my family has been purely dedicated to rowing, showing up for every single practice knowing that if I was not there, someone else would be.
Go Hard Or Go Home
Fast forward to spring/summer 2018. Exiting winter indoor/erg training and a heavyweight at 135 lbs, I decided to make my move which included a complete lifestyle overhaul. I hired a personal trainer whom had trained a former men’s German Olympian and was a stellar collegiate All-American power-lifter himself. I knew if I was going to earn a seat in a competitive boat that I had to go hard or go home. Within two months and weighing in a lightweight 113 lbs later, I had accomplished everything I had set out to do and more. After two years and my first non-novice sprint season, I had made the team that was sent to Masters World Rowing in Sarasota Florida.
During one of my early morning workouts and training sessions, a friend and fellow member of my gym suggested I apply to become a Boathouse Brand Ambassador. Not one to shy away from any form of competition, I applied immediately and made the cut. So here I am, a mere 2 years into my rowing career and I'm a Boathouse Brand Ambassador and on my way to compete in the World Rowing Championship. Somebody pinch me, please.
Walking Into Worlds
Having trained daily for two grueling years and becoming a Boathouse Brand Ambassador, I walked into Worlds in complete confidence and rowed three boats – the Women's 8 and two Women's 4's. It was an amazing experience to say the least, a playground for elite master athletes worldwide. Seeing the tower at Nathan Benderson Park was a thrill, after watching many Olympians cruise by that landmark on tv. Everything was well organized, the sun was cookin', the shuttles and vendors were bustling and the overall energy was contagious.
If I had to take away two highlights of this spearheading moment in time at Worlds, they'd be:
Swinging on a 23 ft high flying trapeze.
I took my confidence from the water to conquering my greatest fear: heights. What an empowering feeling, flying through the air in front of a crowd of curious onlookers; daredevil athletes seeking more inspiration on a similar journey. This was a moment of trust and self belief, the same prescription for making it to Worlds. The icing on the cake was wrapping my legs around the bar and simply letting go, no hands and placing all trust in the process. Finally came the dismount, three swings of the legs, a tuck and back flip down to the net.
Being navigated to the starting line by a tried and true professional coxswain and how she magically transported us.
She weaved and maneuvered around boats and obstacles like Bugs Bunny trying to find a seat in a crowded movie theatre. Our coxswain (with my help as 2 seat), perfectly aligned our shell (a 4) at the stake boat start among world class athletes, many former Olympians. The highlight of all highlights and most surreal moment in time was hearing our team name announced as representing the United States of America. A moment I will treasure forever, one that no one can take away from me, from us, our team.
Competition at this level with only 2 years of rowing experience is a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, drive and focus. Worlds was a truly humbling experience and I couldn't be happier to have shared it with my peers and team leaders at Carnegie Lake Rowing Association.
Above: Jamie is wearing the Women's Pinnacle II Unisuit, High-vis
More Articles From Our Boathouse Ambassadors:
Meet Jesse – He's one of the main coxswains for Boulder Community Rowing in Colorado, as well as their novice coach. He first heard of Boathouse while rowing for Colorado Junior Crew when he was ordered his first Gore-Tex Stevenson. Since then he's accumulated total of three different Stevenson Jackets, one of which was purchased in 2016 at the Head of the Charles Regatta to have autographed by the United States' Women’s 8 gold medalists. We asked Jesse to share a typical day training for fall race season in Colorado, and explain his thoughts on what makes a great rower, the challenges of training on the water in Colorado, and why getting “out of your head and into the boat” is a game changing mentality for rowers. Read Jesse's Story
After serving in the Navy and becoming an orthopedic surgeon and father of four, Carl Eierle thought he’d hung up his oars for good. Then his son, also a rower, suggested they train for the Head of the Charles father/son race. Carl agreed, and what followed was a rigorous year of training in preparation for his first race in over 25 years. This is a story of hard work, perseverance, family, and a love for the sport of rowing. This is the story of how NeuBayern Racing was born. Read Carl's Story
Tragedy and loss can galvanise us into action, making our priorities crystal clear, and give us a strength we did not know we had. Boathouse Ambassador and Navy Veteran Russell Gernaat knows this all to well. When his wife of 22 years passed away from cancer, Russell focused his grief into the energy needed to fulfill his lifelong dream of learning to row and train for in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Having come out the other side of grief, Russell knows that when tragedy strikes you only have two choices “You can spin circles and go nowhere, or you can get up and move forward.” Read Russell’s Story.