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row2k Starting Five: Brett Wilkinson
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
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Brett Wilkinson, 2-seat, US M4x

1. What inspired you to go to your first rowing practice, and was there anything memorable about it?

In 7th grade did Track and Field (baseball never interested me much, and my dad did track and field in college) and did pretty well against the 8th graders.

In 8th grade I was set to do it again, but at the last minute, crossed off "track" and wrote "crew" on the parent permission slip. In 8th grade, I was a "late bloomer" and didn't want to continue to be skinny. That, with the oppurtunity to row at a public high school led me to rowing. In addition, I had done a fair amount of canoeing, and love being on the water.

2. Was there a practice, race or other event when you fell in love with the sport, or when you knew you might not be too bad at rowing? When you thought you could make the national team?
In 8th grade, on the hign school freshman team, I didn't even make the 2nd 8. In 9th grade, I was determined to make the 1st 8, but instead rowed 2 seat in the 2nd eight at the begining of the spring on the water. I worked really hard that year, and moved to stroke of the 2nd eight. Soon after I got a seat race for 2 seat in the 1st 8 and won. A few days later the coach moved me to stroke. We came in 4th at Stotesbury that year. We were disappointed with no medal, but looking back, we did pretty well. That made me think I might be pretty good at this.

I never had aspirations of being on the national team until a couple years after college. Didn't think I'd be good enough. Well, at the time, I didn't have the erg score, or the desire to try to get one. I taught myself how to scull on a small river near Burlington, VT after college just for fun. Did a few head races in '99 and surprisingly had been close to some national teamers. So I gradually stepped up my "training" to see what would happen.

3. Best race/practice, worst race/practice?
So many (just races and practices that is). Races where my boat has sprinted through another crew to win. That's the best feeling. Worst feeling is being on the other end of that.

However, the best race might have been the Olympic Qualifier in Lucerne. I say this because after looking at the rest of the field after the first 25 strokes, I knew that we were going to the Olympics (that is, I knew we would place top 2). That's a good feeling to have when you're racing

4. Best/Anything you've done in the sport no one knows about?
There are a few things that no one knows about for good reasons. ;) However, people are often surprised to hear my answers to questions 1 and 2.

5. Any/most important advice for young rowers?
Enjoy it. Strive for good boat feel. Try not to goof around to much on the water, there's plenty of time for that after practice. Winning competitive races is one of the best feelings, and hard work pays off.

One more thought. I was drawn back to rowing (after college) as I got bored with my daily routine in the office 8 hours a day. I loved spending at least 2 hours a day outside on a beautiful river.

I think it's a good way to start the day, too. I didn't notice it until I would skip a workout to sleep in and go straight to the office. When I was in DC days that I rowed were much more pleasant. When I woke up, I could look foward to rowing and seeing my friends first thing in the morning, instead of reporting to work right away.

I would joke around with friends, have memorable "battles" on the water in 1x's, and have good workout in all before work. A much better way to start the day.


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