Five Para-Rowing Crews Named to 2013 U.S. National Team
July 08, 2013
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – After winning their second international rowing medal last month at the Samsung World Rowing Cup # 2 in Eton Dorney, England, 2012 Paralympic bronze medalists Rob Jones and Oksana Masters decided they needed to make a slight change in their equipment.
They wanted their oars to move faster through the water.
“The biggest change we made (from the World Cup #2) was that we changed up the length of our oars,” Jones said. “We were loaded up a little bit too light, we went too far in one direction, so we changed it and it felt better today.”
They may have to wait until the World Rowing Championships, August 25-September 1, in Chungju, South Korea to find out exactly how effective the change was, because Jones (Lovettsville, Va.) and Masters (Louisville, Ky.) handily won their race on Mercer Lake Monday morning to earn a place on the senior national team.
Jones and Masters defeated the Medstar NRH Paralympic Sport Club entry of Travis Green and Betsy Irwin Mitchell, 4:14.50 to 5:02.80.
“We raced our race, and gave it everything we had,” said Masters.
Jones and Masters were one of five crews that were named to the team that will compete in the adaptive events at this summer’s world championships. Four of the crews earned places on the team in the 2013 Para-Rowing World Championship Trials Monday morning.
In addition, the legs, trunk and arms four with coxswain, a camp-selected boat, has also been named. The crew consists of coxswain Jenny Sichel (Clifton, N.J.), Andrew Johnson (Riverside, Conn.), Eric McDaniel (Weeki Wachee, Fla.), Kathy Byington (Washington, D.C.) and Jaclyn Smith (Williston Park, N.Y.). Johnson, a four-time national team member, finished sixth at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, while Johnson and McDaniel were both members of the crew that raced at the 2011 World Rowing Championships.
In the men’s arms and shoulders single sculls, Daniel Ahr (Mount Laurel, N.J.), a retired U.S. Navy Service Warfare Officer racing for Medstar NRH Paralympic Sport Club, won his race in a time of 5:59.00. Finishing second in 6:15.97 was Capital Adaptive Rowing Program’s Shannon Franks.
“This is only my second season on the water,” Ahr said. “I was really here for the experience. My long-term goal is to be competitive in 2016, so I figured I would come out here and see what trials are like and if my time is good enough to qualify for the team, even better. If not, I was going to take this as a learning experience one way or the other. I think it helped because I felt pretty relaxed out there.
“I went on the Internet and looked up Paralympic times, to see what the universe is like out there,” he said. “It looks like I’ve got some work to do. I rowed a personal best today and I’d like to spend the next couple months taking 20-30 seconds off.”
Ahr will be joined on the team by Capital Rowing Club’s Dana Fink (Atlanta, Ga.), who won the women’s arms and shoulders single sculls, defeating Alabama Crew’s Margaret Stan. Fink finished in a time of 6:51.10 to Stan’s 7:23.04.
Fink just missed a chance to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games. After winning U.S. trials, she finished third at the Final Qualification Regatta last year in Serbia.
“Really, I prepared for this race the same way I prepare for any race,” she said. “I mean, my ultimate goal is Rio in 2016 and this is another step along the journey. I can check this one off now. You can’t ask for better weather and water conditions here, so it’s a great start. I was happy to race my race.
“I’ve been a competitive athlete for a really long time, although I’m still kind of new to the rowing world. I’ve only been rowing for three years. I think I’m pretty good at getting into that competitive athlete mentality from my past experiences. Now I’m working on perfecting that technique for rowing and breaking some of those bad habits before they get ingrained.
“I’m really looking forward to South Korea. With Serbia, there wasn’t the full spectrum of athletes there, so I’m looking forward to getting a better perspective of what that is,” she said.
Rowing uncontested in the legs, trunk and arms mixed double, a new event in this year’s program, was Medstar PSC’s Natalie McCarthy (Seattle, Wash.) and Paul Hurley (Washington, D.C.). They rowed the 1,000-meter course in a time of 4:26.50.
“I think we accomplished what we came out here to do,” said Hurley. “I could feel that we had a straight point, it was smooth and it felt good. This was a good starting point.”
“Coming into this race, we were confident,” said McCarthy. “We knew we didn’t have competition, which is tough, almost. We knew we were going to be by ourselves, racing against the clock, but I was surprisingly nervous. Even just racing against the clock, I surprised myself with how race-ready I felt and all the pre-race nerves that really still got to me, even though we were on our own out there.
“We have about seven weeks before we head out (to South Korea),” she said. “We’re looking at six days per week, two practices per day, pretty intense, lots of volume, lots of intensity. We’re going to work really hard and get as fast as we possibly can.”
For complete event information and results, click here.
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