1. What inspired you to go to your first rowing practice; was there anything memorable about it?
My best friend at Wesleyan was a cox for the men's team so I ended up hanging out a lot with rowers. I spent many a long breakfast watching rowers eat copious amounts of food, listening to rowers talking about how much their hands hurt and how much their backs hurt, and complaining about the cold. I thought, hey I could do this. I was on the volleyball and basketball teams at the time (Div III you can do that sort of thing) so I had to wait until the end of basketball season for my first row. The only thing I remember about my first row was that since I had skipped the entire fall, people were considerably farther along on the skill level. Our coach asked us to feather, I had to yell back what's feathering?
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?
I was very lucky my novice year. Both our A and B novice boats were undefeated during regular season. I was in the B boat until pretty much the Dad Vails, but, I had a blast. Winning was really fun. I remember thinking as we moved through a crew in my first race that I was really enjoying this.
I am never entirely positive I can make the National Team every year. But, my first team was in '93 and I was a spare. I had been invited to pre-elite camp. I assumed I would get to camp and if I was lucky I would make a boat to got to US Nationals and that would be it. Went through camp, was invited to elite camp. Hartmut sent a B boat to Lucerne that year so I got to go race at one of the most beautiful venues as my first international race. The only problem was that I had not brought a passport to camp. It never occurred to me. So I called home in a panic and my step-mother went to storage and combed through storage to get my passport so I could race. After that race we came home and Hartmut had a group of us do a 2k "erg off" for the spare position. This was in the old Princeton boathouse. He put an erg downstairs. We drew for order of go. We waited upstairs for our turn to go. We weren't allowed to know the times before us. I won the starboard side in a 6:56 which was 4 secs faster than my previous P R. College kids these days would have killed me.
3. Best race/practice, worst race/practice?
Well I don't know if this goes under best or worst, but it was certainly the most dramatic practice I ever had. It was about my third day on the water and we were down in Atlanta, Ga for spring break training. It had been raining heavily for about a week and the river was very swollen. We went out on the water in two boats, one with the more experienced novices and one with people like me who had very little idea of what they were doing. We went down stream first. We went through a bridge and the coach decided to turn us around. Being the novice women's coach, he had the smallest and crappiest engine on his launch so he was having a tough time fighting the current. So when he turned us around he told us to go single file back through the bridge, experience boat first, and he would try to stay between us. Well, the experience boat shot off before we even managed to get all eight blades in the water. Before not too long they were nowhere to be seen. So we made our solitary lumbering way towards the bridge. Then, as we got close there was inlet of water that pushed our bow over. Our cox became unsure of what to do (did I mention the inexperienced coxswain part?) so she stopped the boat. But the current kept shoving us towards the bridge. Then she decided to try to back us out of there. All we managed to accomplish was to make ourselves perpendicular to a rapidly oncoming abutment. After centering ourselves on the abutment we stopped again ( I think we were hoping for some coaching intervention, but he couldn't fight the current to get back). At this point it became clear we were going to hit the abutment. I, thinking cleverly, thought I would merely reach out my hand and shove us off the abutment. Luckily a port had that same idea, but with her oar. When her oars snapped in half I snatched my hand back. At this point we were developing a considerable starboard lean from everyone rather hopefully leaning away from the oncoming abutment. Water started pouring in on starboard side and just as we turned sideways we hit. The boat hit at four seat (my seat) and we were held there for about the count of 2, then the boat snapped in half, the bow going around one side and the stern the other. My seat went with the bow, my feet with the stern. I was dragged under and quickly found out why your shoes should always be tied down. I couldn't get my feet out and because I was stretched out by the current I couldn't reach to untie them. Had one of those this would be a stupid way to die adrenaline rushes and managed to yank my feet out of the shoes. All of us, except bow pair who somehow stayed with the abutment, popped up on the other side of the bridge where the water was much calmer, safe and sound. There was considerable rounding up of boat bits and people. The varsity coach had a meeting with us after we had dried off and gotten warm and she repeated over and over that this type of thing never happens. I am going to have to say she was right that is the only time in my 14 years of rowing that has ever happened.
4. Best/Anything you've done in the sport (or anything, really) no one knows about?
I once completely buried my blade before I drove my legs and accelerated all the way through the stroke. It happened only once though, and no one saw it.
5. Any/Most important advice for young rowers?
Learn from your losses as well as your victories. Remember that there is always someone out there that can beat you, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will.