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Despite the long hours, senior finds fulfillment and friendship in rowing

Ivan Beck, Features Editor

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SWEEPING TO SUCCESS. After a long practice session, senior Sarah Polson holds up an oar in the WMS Boathouse at North Avenue.

Rowing takes up almost all of Sarah’s time. However, when you are at her level, it’s hard not to stay motivated.

As larger competitions approach, Sarah Polson and her rowing team practice eight times a week as well as prepare on their own. This consists of both team and solo weight lifting and race practices on the water for several hours per practice. However, this type of preparation and dedication is what allowed Sarah to participate in the lightweight eight race last year at the national level. This year, she is confident she can once again go to nationals.

Rowing isn’t the first sport Sarah has been a part of. For several years, she put her energy and time into soccer. However, she explained that even though she put in huge efforts, she did not see her actions come into fruition. With rowing, however, she felt that she could clearly see the benefits of practice and effort.

While others have quit over the years due to the time commitment of the sport, Sarah has stayed dedicated to rowing at the Chicago Rowing Foundation. By setting objectives and working bit by bit, Sarah has been able to succeed in this sport.

“It taught me a lot about how to have goals,” said Sarah. “What I found I’ve done is I’ve kept on readjusting my goals based on what my performance is now. So like, freshman year, I would have said, where I’m at now would be an unbelievable goal that would have never  happened, But during it, I kept on readjusting and reflecting and trying to not be satisfied.”

Sarah’s mindset for rowing is based on steady, conscious work, and that has allowed her to maintain her hard work.

“Once you have those goals, it’s so hard to just let go of them if you’d, like, worked really hard to go part of the way. And so I guess that’s what keeps motivating me, Sarah said, “But also, I’d say I just think like the community in general, when you’re around people who are as equally motivated as you and want to pick you back up, it’s hard not to be motivated.”

Sarah explained that this growth mindset has allowed her to have a different perception of what success is in several aspects of her life. Instead of measuring success as a certain grade on a test, she explained, she could look at how much growth you had during the process of learning and studying for the test.

Rowing is her largest time commitment outside school, and Sarah has had to sacrifice a great deal to be able to be such a strong athlete. Sarah explained that she can rarely spend time with her friends on Friday due to her intense rowing schedule.

“It’s something I enjoy a lot. So to me I don’t really view it as a sacrifice anymore. But I feel like when I was first starting out it definitely felt really constricting.”

Sarah has also developed relationships through rowing that differ from those she has with her friends at school.

For one, there is the element that she is directly competing with her rowing friends for a spot on a boat. Despite this, being a part of a team has allowed her to make beneficial connections with her fellow rowers.

“You get those relationships where you wouldn’t otherwise because they’re so directly pushing you to improve and pushing you to do more than you thought so you end up appreciating that a lot more” said Sarah.

Even though she only started rowing with Sarah this past year, Peyton Holleb, a sophomore who is also on the rowing team, explained that Sarah has been a strong influence on her experience with the team and as part of a high intensity sport.

“We usually are next to each other every single day, which has been really nice because she’s pushing me and I’m pushing her next to her,” said Peyton. “So she has been really helpful with motivating me and being there for me.”

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