Elan Schoonmaker: Guest Blog from SU London

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I started rowing right when I entered high school. I grew up following the sport of rowing very closely. I remember watching Great Britain and New Zealand international lightweight single scull boats competing at the Olympics. I always looked up to them and dreamed of being just like them one day. The only dilemma was that the U.S. isn’t too keen on sculling races (two oars per rower) let alone single boats (1 person in the boat). It wasn’t until freshman year at SU that I met someone who would take me far in the single. Michael D’Eredita saw the determination in me and decided to coach me free of charge in his spare time. He is an internationally-renowned coach who works as a consultant for Portugal’s national team. Currently he also works closely with Pedro Fragga (Portugal) who is a lightweight single finalist at the world championships.

 

Everything Michael learned about rowing was from a man named Andrew Medcalf. When Michael was in college, Medcalf coached him and passed on his vast knowledge of the sport to him. Currently Medcalf lives in London, coaching at Kingston Rowing Club (southwest of London). Every year Medcalf trains crews to race at the Royal British Henley, one of the biggest rowing races in the world. Michael decided it would be a good experience for me to travel to London for a semester and train with this British team to compete at this race. Now, I am in London training in an 8+ rowing boat with all British guys my age. It is interesting being the foreign rower in the boat.

 

My experience so far has been a dream come true. The guys have been very accepting of a lightweight American in their crew. I am staying in Islington, so a commute to Kingston can be quite lengthy (1.5-2 hours away). Luckily the guys on the team have generously offered me a spare bed to sleep on at their house so I can stay there on weekends. Most of them are heavy weight guys, so I am expected to work twice as hard as them in the boat. We have already had a race in our 8+ at The Hammersmith Head Race in Putney. We finished in the top 25% which was great for our first race together. We also plan on racing the Kingston Head and The Head of the River which is a very renowned event in London. We are also building up our fitness for Henley in July, so I will have to stay an additional 2 months after classes end. Other than racing we have also traveled several times to the old Olympic course, Dorney Lake to train at on the weekends.
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