BY LUKE REYNOLDS
PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY
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The thrill of side-by-side rowing was the main attraction on day two of the 2022 USRowing NSR I & Senior/Para Speed Order regatta.
Wednesday morning’s racing included the men’s and women’s single repechages which finalized the A/B semifinals as well as the C, D, and E finals that will take place Thursday morning.
The 16 athletes who battled their way out of the repechages and earned spots in tomorrow’s A/B semifinals includes Savannah Brija (ARION), Lauren O’Connor (ARION), Grace Joyce (Green Racing Project), Michalina Fili (USTC – Princeton), Maggie Fellows (Boston Rowing Federation), Emily Kallfelz (Cambridge), Hannah Paynter (ARION), Mary Nabel (Cambridge), Andrew Gaard (California Rowing Club), Shane O’hEochaidh (Penn AC), Jonathan Kirkegaard (Texas Rowing Center), Thomas Phifer (Penn AC), Michael Knippen (California Rowing Club), Dominique Williams (Vesper), Eliot Putnam (Penn AC), and Tom Peszek (San Diego).
That group of 16 joins the eight athletes who earned a direct berth to the semifinals in Tuesday’s time trials. Kara Kohler, a two-time Olympian who finished ninth in the event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, finished second in the time trial and will race in the women’s single semifinals tomorrow.
“I’m pretty pumped to get in side-by-side racing again,” Kohler said. “It’s been a while since the summer. This is why I train. I love side-by-side.”
Kohler says she will go through her pre-race routine to prep for tomorrow’s event.
“Especially for these high-stakes events I like to do a visualization and walk through the race. I think of different scenarios and also write it down. During the race when all your adrenaline is pumping, and all you are focused on is the race it’s already ingrained in my head and it’s what I come back to.”
Maggie Fellows, representing Boston Rowing Federation, finished first in repechage four of the women’s single and said that conditions remained a factor during today’s racing.
“It was fun to go out there and row through the course and get a sense of how the wind moves in a different direction,” Fellows said. “Yesterday during my piece it was pretty much a direct cross [wind] and today it was more of a tail-cross.”
Fellows says that despite this, she still follows a pretty straightforward race plan. A strategy that clearly works for the St. Lawrence University graduate as—in addition to her first-place finish—she also posted the fastest time in the women’s single repechages perhaps a credit to the excitement of side-by-side racing as well.
“There is a plan, but there’s flexibility within the plan. I’m not a huge fan of time trials. I mean it’s fine, but I much prefer to be side-by-side and do the racing bit. Being adaptable is the plan.”
Tomorrow’s weather looks to present its own challenges with thunderstorms predicted for the morning and winds between 10 to 20 miles per hour.
For the rowers at NSR I, it’s a mere detail.
“I’ve seen the weather,” Fellows said. “I’m prepared for anything and whatever happens, happens.”
Racing will begin at 8:30 a.m. East Thursday. Results can be viewed here.
* Rowing News Trials coverage brought to you by Gemini.