Women's 2k world record holder Brooke Mooney is headed to Tokyo as a member of the USA Women's 8+. This is Brooke's first national team.
What inspired you to go to your first rowing practice; was there anything memorable about it?
I grew up as a competitive cross country skier in Vermont and found the sport of rowing through skiing. I skied all through elementary, middle and high school with multiple junior national championship races and podiums. During my junior year of high school I decided I didn't want to ski in college and wanted to pursue something else. One of the coaches at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Pepa Miloucheva, recommended I tried rowing. I did one learn to row camp at Craftsbury before rowing transfer schools for my senior year of high school to try out rowing... about 8 years later here I am heading to Tokyo!!!
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?
The B-final 2- race at the World Cup I in 2019 was the race that was the start of something big for me! My first 6-8 months on the national team I was fresh out of college and had the goal of being selected for the winter camp trip (which I was); this meant showing progress and adaptability both on and off the water. I was also starting to row starboard full-time instead of 1-2 times a year. One of my first pair partners in our 3 month winter camp in Chula Vista, CA was Meghan Musnicki, two-time olympic gold medalist. She joined the team in January 2019 after coming out of retirement. I did not know much about Meghan before she came back besides the fact she was a badass on and off the water. I was so new to the team and to rowing that when I started rowing with her one of my main goals was to learn as much as possible. It seemed to be her mission to push me in every way she knew how. I am so grateful for that even on the days I felt like I was making backward steps in the pair.
Fast forward through racing NSR together we were lining up at the start line of World Cup 2, my first World Cup and Meghan's first race back on the team. We had a solid race in the heat and raced below our potential in the repechage which landed us in the B-final. The night before the B-final Meghan had a little chat with me in the room which made me break out in a cold sweat. I don't remember word for word but it was something along the lines of 'we have to have our bow ball ahead at the 500m mark tomorrow, if you blow up in the second half of the race it's ok; at least we were aggressive'. I was now on a mission to do everything in my rowing ability to not let her down. That race was one of the most aggressive races I have ever done. Our bow ball was ahead by the 500m and kept on going. It was this race that helped me find a new level in my race ability and I have continued to push the dial more and more every chance I get. I won't say it's all thanks to Meghan Musnicki and our B-final race, but it definitely helped!
Best race/practice, worst race/practice?
Best race: The Windermere Cup in Seattle is a race like none other (Henley Royal Regatta did come close though). For this race the University of Washington race course, the cut, is lined with a log boom which Yachts tie up to side by side. From start to finish there are spectators as well as a lot of noise and commotion. It is the closest I have ever gotten too competing in a full stadium. In 2017 the race for the Windermere Cup trophy and coveted champions jackets was between the Washington 1V (the boat I was in), 2V and an 8+ from the Chinese national team. We had been told the Chinese were loud and quick off the line so when it came time to race we shot off the blocks. By half way the race was down to the two Washington boats. The competition between the 1V and the 2V was very strong since this race was very important in selection for PAC-12 and NCAA championships. When our bow ball came across the finish line in first place, it felt like we had won the Super Bowl. This speaks volumes as to how impactful that race meant to the rowers of UW and the Seattle community. To this day the Windermere Cup is one of my favorite races I have ever rowed in.
Worst practice(s): Last summer it was me against my single, there were a lot of tears and trying times but it helped me keep pushing through no matter what. It wasn't all bad and it did end on a much higher note than it started.
Best/Anything you've done in the sport no one knows about?
During a USRowing ID camp in 2017, I beat Ben Davison in the 1' watt test! We were classmates at UW and he is now in the USA mens 8+ going to Tokyo. If we were to have a rematch I am not sure I would win but that one day in 2017 I managed to out-watt him!
Any/Most important advice for young rowers?
I didn't start rowing seriously until I was in college but I was a serious athlete from a young age and the advice I would give is the same no matter the sport. Make sure you are having fun in the sport you are playing and dont be afraid to try something new. Rowing was something I tried with out knowing anything about it and it changed my life.
Hometown: Keene Valley, N.Y.
Club Affiliation: Princeton TC
Education: University of Washington
Training Location: Princeton, NJ
Current Coach: Tom Terhaar
National Teams: One - Olympic, 2020
International Results: Won silver in the eight at the 2019 World Rowing Cup II...Finished fourth in the four and seventh in the pair at the 2019 World Rowing Cup I...Won a silver medal in the women's open division at the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships...Rowed in the Remenham Challenge Cup at the 2018 Henley Royal Regatta.
National Results: Won the national title at the 2019 USRowing Indoor National Championships...Finished second in the varsity eight at the 2018 NCAA Championships...Won gold in the varsity eight at the 2017 NCAA Championships...Finished third in the second varsity eight at the 2015 NCAA Championships.
Personal: Brooke set the women's world record for 2,000 meters on the ergometer in March, 2021. In 2018, she was named PAC-12 Athlete of the Year, was a Pocock CRCA First-Team All-America first team, and was Academic All-PAC-12 honorable mention. Brooke's favorite hobbies include baking (it's a great hobby when you have a team full of taste testers), tennis, sailing, swimming, walking/hiking and traveling. She is a baker with multiple 5-star yelp reviews.
No place is to far too walk: this became her motto when recovering from brain surgery in 2017. She found the sport of rowing through cross-country skiing. She grew up in Vermont as a competitive cross-country skier with multiple junior national championship podiums but didn't love it enough to do it in college, so she transitioned to rowing for her senior year of high school. Brooke has had many coaches over the years that have had an enormous impact on her as an athlete and a human, starting with her high school ski coach, Sverre Caldwell, and most recently (before joining the national team) Yaz Farooq, the UW head coach her junior and senior year.