Eileen Flynn, Story Editor
The fall Crew season is ending and for two rowers part of the Westport Saugatuck Rowing Club, this season meant a gold medal at the Head of the Charles; the world’s largest two day rowing event. Not only did Junior Caitlin Esse and Senior Sydney Kend walk away with the gold, but they also broke the standing record, having the fastest time in the Youth eights category in all 53 years that the regatta has been held.
The accomplishments of the rowers at NCHS do not come without hard work. Junior Max Plum, along with many of the other rowers, practice almost every day for 3-4 hours a day to be in the best shape possible to compete in exclusive regattas across the country.
Caitlin rows for Westport Saugatuck Rowing Club and is on the team that has been undefeated for over three years. “It’s a lot of weight on your shoulders. There’s a lot of pressure to defend the name of Saugatuck and live up to the girls before you. It’s pressure but it’s good pressure because you’re so motivated to do your absolute best,” she said.
Sydney has been rowing for the Westport Saugatuck Rowing Club since freshman year and is constantly working to improve her time. “People think about crew and think that we’re just sprinting, but we’re sprinting for ten minutes straight sometimes, which is really difficult. You have to go to practice before and after school and sometimes will leave the house at 4:30 AM and don’t get back until 6:30 at night,”she said.
Max has also been rowing throughout high school and is part of New Canaan Crew. This year his boat placed in the top five in every regatta. “The practices were really intense and it never really slows down. Whenever we finish one competition, we immediately start training for the next,” Max said.
These athletes have had to learn how to balance their long hours with their schoolwork. This takes extreme dedication and time management. “It’s all about using your time efficiently. If you have a free minute of time, there’s probably something that you should be doing,” Caitlin said.
Even when they work as efficiently as possible, their responsibilities can be a lot to handle. “It’s a lot of late nights. By the time I get home and am ready to start my homework it’s already 7:00.” Max said.
However, their responsibilities are not without reward. “If you put the time into it and really dedicate yourself to it it won’t just change your physical limits but also your work ethic and who you are as a person. It can be difficult, but it’s totally worth it in the end,” Caitlin said.
Crew is also one of the sports with the highest recruitment rates for college. “Crew’s definitely really helpful for colleges,” Max said. “I really hope that I can continue to row in college. I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.”
Rowing is a sport that does not offer itself to people that are not willing to dedicate themselves to it. “If you want to row, you have to make sure you’re all in. You really have to want it, and if you commit to it, it’s absolutely amazing,” Sydney said. “I live and breathe this sport because it’s done so many great things for me. It’s an amazing sport that accepts any person that is willing to work for it.”