SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - More than 1,500 of the country’s best young rowers are in Sarasota right now to compete at Nathan Benderson Park.
It was championship opening day for Sarasota Crew, Sarasota Scullers and more than 150 teams from all over the country competed at the U.S. Rowing Youth National championships.
“This is what you’re working all season for to get out there and get a national title,” said SANCA at Nathan Benderson Park president Stephen Rodriguez. He says for many of the athletes competing, it sets the stage for them advancing to the next step.
“A lot of these athletes out here, they are obviously looking for scholarships. They are looking to move on and have a collegiate career as well,” said Rodriguez.
Athletes like Sarasota Crew’s Grace Menke, who will be rowing for Yale University next year. “There are so many competitive boats out there and there are boats that we haven’t raced before so we always have to be on our toes here,” said Menke.
Her coach Casey Galvanek agrees. “Competitive wise, there’s nothing that compares to this on the junior level. Nationals have the best athletes, the best crews,” said Galvanek.
While team members cheer on their teammates, Galvanek says these athletes need a strong mindset going into the race. “They’re pumped. It’s also a little bit of extra stress. You have to be on point. There are really no room for mistakes. If you look at the times, it’s fractions of a second that separates 1st through 4th sometimes.”
Sarasota Crew winning the championships last year and according to Rodriguez, the Suncoast will be winning as well. “This event has historically produced 7-million dollars of economic impact for the community. It’s all money that’s infusing into our economy here locally promoting tourism through sport,” said Rodriguez.
This year is the first of a three year commitment to hold the U.S. Youth Rowing Nationals at Nathan Benderson Park. The championships will continue through this Sunday.