Churchville-Chili’s Flynn represents USA at World Rowing Championships

By on August 12, 2019
Katie Flynn (right) with her team from the 2019 World Rowing Championships.

Katie Flynn (right) with her team from the 2019 World Rowing Championships.

2014 Churchville-Chili graduate and recent Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Bachelor’s Degree recipient Katie Flynn earned a roster spot on Team USA for the 2019 World Rowing Championships held in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida the final weekend in July.

Flynn competed in the Quadruple Skulls event, which is a 44-foot boat, in the Bow position along with Hannah Paynter (Princeton), Camille VanderMeer (Princeton via Elmira, NY) and Arianna Lee from Syracuse University.

“In the United States, the U-23 world championship boats only have a few months to train together because everyone attends different colleges,” Flynn commented via email. “Whereas in other countries often the national teams are training together year-round which is a huge advantage when it comes to rowing. 

“Going into the championships we knew that everyone was going to be fast but we were very excited to race. Our first race in the heats was not the race we had hoped to put together, but it was a huge learning experience. We were able to come back through the repechage with a strong race. In the Final we had our best race yet, racing side by side with Poland and China right from the start for the whole 2000m. Overall, we were proud of our performance and how we represented the United States throughout the regatta.

“Around 40 girls got invited to selection camp based on how you performed at regattas through the year, erg scores, and coaching recommendations. The camp was responsible for choosing the quad or 4x (4 people sculling), the straight four or 4- (4 people sweeping without a coxswain), the four with or 4+ (4 people sweeping with a coxswain), and the eight, 8+ (eight sweepers): in total 20 spots. I was part of the sculling selection group which is different from sweeping because each rower has two oars instead of one.”

A three-sport athlete with the Saints in swimming, indoor track and softball along with ice hockey for a club team outside of school, Flynn found rowing by chance while attending RPI.

“When I got to college, I knew that sports and fitness were previously a huge part of my productivity and success in high school. I sought out any sport that would be able to fill that void. In my freshman year I took part on the club soccer team, club swim team; sports I was already familiar with; and tried the crew program which was a completely new sport to me. I found that the rowers were some of the most focused and driven athletes, which instantly drew me in. 

“Rowing is largely a technical sport and it takes a lot of time to hone in the stroke, but on top of that competitors have an incredibly high cardio base. I found that my sports background was a huge part of my early success in rowing because I always wanted to push myself and keep getting better. After spending a summer working in Detroit and competing on a local club team there, I was able to take my training from RPI’s club program to a crew in Saratoga, called ARION, which is designed to train athletes to compete on the national level. This was even more eye-opening to me because I was now training side by side with athletes that had experience at D1 schools and on national teams. 

“My success in the past year is because of those athletes who pushed me, supported me, and motivated me to work as hard as they were despite being the only one training and in college. This route to the U-23 national team is quite unique, most of the girls on the team compete at D1 schools and have access to large athletic programs and resources.”

Though finished with her undergraduate degree at RPI, Flynn’s days of competing at the collegiate level are not over.

“This spring I graduated from undergrad (Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) and intend to pursue a graduate degree in electrical engineering. Since RPI’s team and the ARION program are not affiliated with the NCAA, I have one year of eligibility left to row at a D1 program. 

“I was able to find a great fit for both rowing and academics at the University of Virginia where I will pursue a PhD in electrical engineering as well as compete on their crew team. This year’s focus will be on how I can strengthen myself as an athlete and help contribute and push the team to a NCAA championship.

“Going through the selection process and fighting for a spot in a U.S. boat this summer was an incredible experience for me. I have always wanted to compete on a national level and being able to fight for my spot with other amazing athletes everyday only pushed me to work harder. The world championship itself was eye-opening because of the focus on rowing in other countries. It was a huge honor to wear the USA uniform and be a part of a team with top athletes from all across the country. However, it has only motivated me to work harder and smarter so that I can take part in something like this again in the future.”

Provided photos

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