Olympian Margot Shumway may have gotten her international start in the quad--making her first National Team (2005) and first Olympic Team (2008) in the big boat--but the single is her boat of choice. Shumway was the US sculler in 2009 and she is back to racing the single at the Pan Am Games in Mexico this week. In the second of this week's pre-Pan Am row2k Interviews, Shumway checks in from Cuidad Guzman on her preparation for Pan Am's, what racing the single means to her, and the energy she gotten from training back at her home base this year, the Potomac Boat Club.
row2k: How are preparations going for Pan Am's? Are you doing anything special to prepare?
Margot Shumway: Things are going really well. I’ve seen a big improvement in my technique over the past few months as well as a huge mental transformation. I’ve come back to Potomac Boat Club and the support and energy I feel that have helped me find my groove again. Loving what I do, for me, translates to being faster on the water in my single.
row2k: You narrowly missed catching Gevvie Stone in the single at Senior Trials: what have you been working on in your race plan since then, and do you feel like you've found more speed?
Margot Shumway: I think I’ve been on an upward trajectory since Trials, Pan Am Trials, and now. I’m just trying to be consistent and find what makes me move the fastest in my boat.
row2k: The timing of Pan Am's this cycle is somewhat unique, coming after Senior Trials and the World Championships. Has the additional training and the chance to race at Pan Am's turned into a positive for you?
Margot Shumway: Absolutely. I have always seen Pan Am Games as an awesome opportunity to gain international experience, to find confidence in my race plan, and to represent the United States. I see it as the chance to become better than I was the day before and to put my hard work in practice to the test.
row2k: Is the single your priority for 2012 and, if so, what are your thoughts on how difficult it might be to win one of the final qualification spots at Lucerne?
Margot Shumway: My priority for 2012 is to become the best that I can be so I can make a positive contribution to the Olympic team, in whatever capacity I can.
row2k: You made your first Worlds team in 2005, in the quad, then made the quad for Beijing, rowed the single at the 2009 Worlds, then back to the quad for 2010--and this year, back into the single. Now that you've raced both the quad and the single internationally: did you find yourself approaching the races differently when you were in the single? Do you prefer one or the other?
Margot Shumway: I have always loved the single. If I win or lose, it's on me and there is something so pure about that. I approach racing the single as a challenge to myself to see if I can achieve what I believe I can. Sometimes I have done that, sometimes I have not. But I have grown equally from both my wins and my losses. The single is the most honest way to see myself as a sculler. When I love what I do, I go fast. When I doubt myself and my love of this sport, I go very slow.
row2k: Any thoughts on how approaching the London Olympics might be different for you, having made the team in 2008?
Margot Shumway: The journey is never the same year to year. You have to continue to learn, even if you are at the top of your game. My struggles have always allowed me to learn and grow as an athlete and I have always come back stronger from them. All I want to do is become my best. When I accomplish that, whatever happens, happens. I can be satisfied knowing that I gave everything I had.
row2k: Which race in your past is the most memorable and why?
Margot Shumway: I’ve said this before, but losing NSR 1 in 2009 was a very memorable race for me. I came in second. I learned so much from getting beaten. It made me really deal with my insecurities and focus on the things that make me fast. It helped me to clarify my goals and my belief in myself. The bottom line was I raced scared, and when I learned to race without fear, I achieved my goal to go to Worlds that year.
row2k: Which race stands out as the one you learned the most from and why?
Margot Shumway: I would say I learned a lot from NSR 1 this year. That was probably one of the worst performances I have ever had. I was completely lost, and my race showed that. Over the past few months I have learned to redefine myself as an athlete. I placed a lot of limitations on what I was capable of achieving. Once I stopped putting those limits on myself, such as age, injury, I started to row better and my speed has improved dramatically.