Katelin Guregian has probably spent as much time in the erg room as most of the women on the US national team.
As the coxswain for the US women's eight the last six years, most of that time has been spent standing behind her teammates during erg testing, or just during workouts, while encouraging and offering tips and support. It's what coxswains do when they are not sitting in the back of the eight calling a race and steering the boat.
But lately, Guregian has been logging meters of her own during the US women's winter training months in Chula Vista, California, and this Sunday she is going to be in a completely different situation - in competition on the erg, with 2016 Olympic champion Lauren Schmetterling standing behind her calling the race.
"I'm a little nervous, but very, very, very excited," said Guregian, who is racing in the senior women's lightweight event.
Guregian will be among more than 700 competitors that will meet in the Walter Pyramid arena on the campus of Long Beach State University in Long Beach, California, for the second World Rowing Indoor Championships, and the inaugural USRowing Indoor Rowing National Championships.
The event will be held in conjunction with the Long Beach Sprints, and will feature racing across all ages and categories, including open and lightweight seniors, men's and women's juniors, masters, and adaptive.
The combined event will offer chances to race for national championships in 160 events, and World Championships in 68 events. In addition, medals will be on the line in 36 Beach Sprint races. This is the first year for the US national championship portion of the event, and the second for the World Rowing event.
The story behind Guregian's decision to race can be traced back to when she was invited to be part of a virtual erg rowing challenge by Craftsbury Sculling Center's Taylor Goetzinger in December.
"Taylor called and asked me to be on their team, and I thought if they are recruiting me, they must really need people." So, she started training, and it caught Schmetterling's attention.
"Lauren asked me if I was competing, and that if I was, she would like to write my training plan. I said OK because it sounded like fun to have a coach," she said. "It's been really hard, but Lauren has been great and she's so positive, and it's nice to have someone I can be accountable to.
"There were a number of times when I was doing hard pieces and I wanted to stop," she said. "But I have to send Lauren my erg scores, so there is no way I can tell her I stopped. There is just literally no way that could happen."
Among the athletes pulling for a World Championship will be 20 US national team training center women, including Schmetterling, and 20 US national team training center men.
A handful of senior and under 23 international athletes will be also competing, including women's open defending champion Olena Buryak from Ukraine, and several German national team athletes, among them lightweight men's single world champion Jason Osborne and men's heavyweight single sculler Oliver Zeidler.
While Guregian's event will have just six competitors, the smaller size of the event won’t be making her any less nervous, or excited. But she is ready, she said.
"Hey, I did 119,000 meters in January," she said. "It was great. My longest row was 10K. But I did not do 10k all at once. I would do two-thousand meters at a time, so I don't get hurt. So far, I have done three 2ks, and I've learned some really good lessons in all of them. They've all been really hard."
So, what is her goal for Sunday?
"Lauren said I am not allowed to say what my goal is, so I'm not going to say," she said. "But my expectation for myself is to go faster than I've gone this year, and to have more fun than I've had this year," she said. "I want to go faster, and I want to have more fun."