This week's interview is with Princeton lightweight coxswain Eden Full. Full, a junior, is just coming off a two year fellowship to develop the SunSaluter, a gravity powered device that helps solar panels follow the sun, while providing clean water for developing countries.
row2k - How did you get your start in rowing at Princeton?
Eden Full - Someone found me at the freshmen activities faire and I was small so they asked me to try out for the team because I would make a great coxswain. I started out just sitting in the launch like everyone else, but I felt something about the role really spoke to me. As a kid my self-confidence was always on the lower end of things and coxing really helped bring me out of my shell, so I'm grateful for that. There's something about being on a team and bringing value to a sport that is very exciting to me.
row2k - Tell us about the SunSaluter and where it came from?
Eden Full - The SunSaluter started out as a high school research project, which eventually turned into something I did more research on in college. It's a device that helps rotate solar panels without using electricity, so that they can optimize energy collection in developing countries. I've always had an interest in building and tinkering with things and that's why I'm majoring in mechanical engineering here at Princeton. Part of that also extends into an interest in biomechanics, and what I hope to write my senior thesis on is designing better sensors for rowing. My passion for engineering is something that has been with me my whole life. I realized the SunSaluter was something I wanted to work on seriously, so I received a fellowship to take time off from school, which meant taking a little time off from rowing as well, but I found ways to keep busy during my time off!
row2k - What were some of the highlights of your two years off?
Eden Full - I was a coxswain for the Canadian national team in 2012, the year of the London Olympics. Everyone at the training center was very focused on London, but they had this boat of future Olympic hopefuls that they wanted to develop for 2016 and 2020. So, they got an eight together and decided to send them to the Holland Beker Regatta in Amsterdam and the Henley Royal Regatta in England. At that time I had only been coxing for two years, only ever coxing the 2V boat on the lightweight women's team here. I emailed the Canadian coaches since I had some time off and just wanted to learn more and stay in touch rowing. I went there for a couple months with no expectations but I thought it was exciting just to be there and make smoothies for all the Olympic athletes.
Eventually I got selected for the coxswain seat in the eight and we ended up training in Amsterdam for about six weeks. We competed in the Holland Beker Regatta fairly early on in June, then went to Henley and raced and won the Remenhem Cup! There were all these rowers in my boat who had been rowing for 10-15 years, including one former Olympian. So here I am coxing them with only two years of experience! That event was very humbling and I grew up a lot during that trip.
row2k - What did you learn from your two years away that have helped you become the coxswain you are now?
Eden Full - I think as a college student it's difficult to get a picture of what your life is going be like after college or what you want to do. For me, I got this trial run to see if I would potentially like to continue coxing after college and I also realized that I really enjoy building things, building my own start-up, working on the SunSaluter. Maybe after college I could see myself working on something engineering related, something that gives me the opportunity to continue building things. I thought it was good that I had the opportunity to test all those options out ahead of time, so now I feel more confident coming back here to Princeton and that I'm adding value to the team. I feel like I have a better idea of what rowing is like outside of Princeton because before I had only had Princeton as context.
row2k - What strategies do you have that help you manage your time?
Eden Full - Unlike other colleges, we have our practices from 4:30pm-6:30pm every day which is right in the middle of the day. I've learned that assigning different parts of my day to different tasks is actually better than what I had originally thought, which was to have a whole eight hour period with which to work. I found it was quite easy to get distracted during long stretches. Having to schedule around rowing has been good for me because it's encouraged me to be more accountable knowing that I have to make it to practice every day because people are counting on me to be there.
row2k - How has this year gone for you and what are your goals for the spring season?
Eden Full - I think I've grown up a lot over the past year and I want to be the best coxswain I can be. Fall was dedicated to getting to know everyone and getting to know the rowing style and what type of coxing the team was looking for. In the spring I want to really bring it all together. I like all of the women on the team and our coach is very excited about our boat, so that is exciting moving forward. I want to know that I'm doing everything I can, both strategically and technically, as a coxswain and a coach to make sure that they're in a good position to race in the spring.