Masters Nationals Unites Newcomers and Veterans Alike

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — This week, Peachtree City Rowing Club made its 2017 Master’s Nationals debut, having six crews race. Founded in August of 2015, the club is newer than most on Melton Lake this week, but is starting to gain traction on the national level.

PTCRC cofounder Megan Gradek, a collegiate rower and 1997 U.S. National Team member, was one of the team’s competitors in two races today. Gradek took home silver in the women’s open C single sculls and gold with a composite crew in the women’s open B quadruple sculls. In addition, she is excited about the impact the racing experience will have on the masters team and it’s growth in the future.

“This is the first time that we’ve come to Master’s Nationals, which is fantastic,” Gradek said. “It’s a great experience for everyone involved. We’re a very small club, but now we’re growing.”

PTCRC is the only rowing club within a 60 mile radius of Peachtree City, Ga., and one of its main goals is spreading the word about the sport in the area. Though the club is only beginning to expand, the impact it has already made on its existing members is palpable.

PTCRC’s Beth Parker finished sixth in the women’s open E single sculls yesterday afternoon, and though she did not medal, the program could not be happier about her making the final and gaining more experience in the sport.

“She just started rowing,” Gradek said. “When she saw we started a club, she joined, and then she made it to the final yesterday which is phenomenal. She was so excited and I was so excited for her.”

Returning to Masters Nationals has become a tradition 30 years in the making for Detroit Boat Club. The men of the club have been racing together annually since 1987.  

The men’s club G four with coxswain lineup of Dennis Wojdyla, Mike Thibault, Dennis Sitek and Allan Baur, as well as other men in the program from the G-J category have grown old together. From racing as college-aged athletes to winning their race in the four today, the camaraderie of competing with close friends keeps them coming back year after year.

“We have a certain history, and we believe in racing at the highest level,” said Wojdyla, who began rowing in 1971. “I think we have a reputation of being a small group that is very competitive.”

Beyond maintaining a legacy at Masters Nationals, Detroit Boat Club also owns the title of oldest continually-operating rowing club in North America, dating back to 1839.  Detroit Boat Club trains athletes of all ages, or from “cradle to grave,” as Wojdyla calls it. They offer programs catering to middle school aged rowers, all the way into athletes in their eighties.

Racing concluded with 66 national titles awarded today. One of the closest races of the day was the women’s open B four with coxswain final. The top three crews finished within 1.32 seconds of each other. Alexandria Community Rowing took the win in a time of 3:53.22, with Community Rowing Inc. placing second in 3:53.78 and Masters Coaching earning the bronze in 3:54.76.

Lost and Found: A pair of Oakley Radar EV sunglasses were misplaced during racing this afternoon. If they were picked up, please return them to USRowing registration or the singles bay at the Oak Ridge Rowing Association boathouse.

Additionally, there was an item of significant value left in the women’s bathroom today. It has been located. If this item is yours, please see James Rawson at the USRowing registration table.

Racing will continue tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. for the fourth and final day of racing at the 2017 Masters National Championship.

For full results from Friday’s racing, see

Watch the live stream broadcast for today’s racing and the coming days of finals on USRowing’s YouTube Channel.

Schedule | Entries | Results

Photos from the event are available for viewing and downloads here on USRowing Photos.


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