The city of Hamilton will be well represented at an international coastal rowing championship in October.
Members of the Great Miami Rowing Center will be part of a team that features head coach Marc Oria, assistant coach Chris Bak, and several teenage rowers. They will represent the Hamilton-based club and region when they compete for the United States at the 2022 World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals, commonly referenced as the World Rowing Coastals, in Wales.
Oria said they raced last year at an international competition in the 2021 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Portugal and performed well. He knew at that point he needed to create “a high-performance team” for coastal races.
Athletes interested, including those with the GMRC, competed in mini-camps to select the best athletes for coastal trials. Out of nine possible events, they qualified six teams.
“That was a massive, massive achievement, he said.
Cassidy Norton, 19, of Hamilton, is a GMRC alumni member and student-athlete rower at Robert Morris University. She previously competed in Portugal.
She said the first time she made an international competition, “it kinda felt like a miracle” because she never thought it would have happened. Now, it’s “an accomplishment,” she said.
“I’ve done all this hard work, and I’m actually doing something with it,” Norton said, who’s competing in the women’s single coastal.
Norton got fifth place, and her goal for this trip is a podium finish.
“It all comes down to hard work in a month and a half,” she said.
The team will leave for Barcelona at the beginning of September, train for three weeks there and then train another three weeks with the Irish National team in Ireland. The competition is on the first two weekends of October.
Gary Rought, 17, of Mason, and Malachi Anderson, 17, of Hamilton, will compete in the costal junior doubles together. Rought went with the team to compete in the 2022 Copa America Coastal in Chorrillos, Peru this past Sprint. Anderson, however, did not.
“This is something I would never have dreamed would have happened being on this team,” said Anderson, who did compete with the team in Sarasota, Florida.
He called this trip and six weeks of training “mind-blowing.”
Medaling is “always the goal,” but since this is his first international competition, he plans to work hard and finish the best he can.
Anderson said he hopes he can take away what others, like his partner Rought, experienced when they previously competed in international events. Rought said “you can’t pay a price” for the experience gained by not only training alongside but competing against athletes from other countries.
“The things I learned (in Peru) and I applied when I came back, it improved my skill, which really gave me a step up,” he said.
The event is competing in coastal waters, which is different than flatwater rowing, like the Great Miami River.
While not all on the team representing the United States are members of the GMRC, Rought said those who are going are showing what they can do on the international stage.
“We’ve always been a smaller club, so this just proves that strength isn’t just numbers,” he said. “We’re a smaller club and we can punch above our weight class. Bringing light to the city of Hamilton where we get to practice on this beautiful stretch of water every day, that’s amazing.”
Chris Bak, an assistant coach with GMRC and is competing in a single men’s senior and the mix quad (which is four rowers and a coxswain). Training for a coastal competition on a river, he said, “We try to get creative.”
“We place buoys and practice turns, and we hop in the launch, make some waves,” he said. “Last year, Kings Island helped us out where we hopped in their wave pool.”
Bak said this team should do well, saying, “I think everyone has a really good shot at the podium.”
Annalie Duncomb, 16, of Mason, is competing with Annelise Hahl, 16, of Cary, North Carolina in the coastal junior women’s doubles race. Hahl’s pairing with Duncomb was a bit serendipitous. Duncomb’s old rowing partner was at a camp this summer with Hahl, and when she couldn’t compete in the event, Hahl was invited to join.
Despite being partners for less than a week, Duncomb said, “I think we definitely have a really good shot at winning this year.”
“We race to win,” she said.
While Duncomb competed internationally this past spring in Peru, this is Hahl’s first time overseas. But she’s confident because they have a “good dynamic” with her new partner.”
Mechanics are the same, Duncomb said of the difference between flatwater and coastal rowing, but compared it to the difference between street cycling and a BM Xrace. The concepts and mechanics are similar, but coastal rowing, like BMX racing, “is a lot more rugged and more chaotic. It’s super fun.”
For Oria, going to this world championship is about giving opportunities and making memories for the athletes, and organizing the trip “is a pleasure and an honor.”
“I wish I would have had a coach that gave me those opportunities to me when I was an athlete. Here, you can have the opportunity if you want it, you can take it,” he said. “Yeah, my role is to coach, but I love to mentor these kids on this path in their lives.”
Many members of the Great Miami Rowing Club will compete in the 2022 World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals, led by GMRC head coach Marc Oria. The team qualified to compete in six of the nine events:
Senior men’s single
Senior women’s single
Senior mixed quad
Women’s junior double
Men’s junior double
FOLLOW THE TEAM
Follow Team USA in the 2022 World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals on Instagram:
Head coach Marc Oria will also be providing updates at: