By Ryan Kaczmarski
Westlake High School graduate Margot Shumway, along with her rowing partner Sarah Trowbridge, has earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic rowing team and will be competing this summer in the 2012 London Summer Games.
They will be competing in the women’s double sculls event, which is a two-person sculling boat where both rowers have two oars.
“I was just very satisfied that Sarah and I had put together a solid (qualifying) race and executed it when it counted,” Shumway said. “Obviously, I’m very excited to be going to London to compete in the Olympics.”
They will adhere to their intense training schedule all the way up to the actual competition.
“The only difference is that now that we know we are going, we can be very focused on one goal – being fast and competitive in London,” Shumway said. “Having a specific goal gives your training that much more purpose.”
She began her rowing career in her junior year of college, while attending The Ohio State University.
“I was recruited while running one night at Ohio State at the French Field House, which is where the women’s rowing team did their indoor training at the time,” she said. “After I graduated, I continued rowing but switched to sculling and ended up at the Potomac Boat Club with Matt Madigan as my coach. I had heard about him and the program was really good, so I moved to (Washington) D.C. and began training with more purpose for the national team.”
In national competition, Shumway won the single sculls at the 2011 Pan American Games Trials, finished second in the single sculls at the 2011 Senior World Championships Trials, finished third in the double sculls at the 2010 National Selection Regatta No. 3 and won the single sculls at the 2009 World Championships Trials, among other accomplishments.
In international competition, she won gold in the single sculls at the 2011 Pan American Games, finished fifth in the quadruple sculls at the 2010 World Rowing Championships, finished fifth in the double sculls and the quadruple sculls at the 2010 Rowing World Cup stop in Lucerne, Switzerland, and finished fifth in the quadruple sculls at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Although it is the same sport, Shumway noted that there are differences between national and international competition.
“Nationally, you know the competition because, most likely, you have trained with the people you are competing against at certain points in your career,” she said. “Internationally, you don’t get the chance to see these athletes until you are competing – and these are most likely very accomplished athletes – so you get a whole new level of intensity and competitiveness. I think that the women’s team has really done a sound job in recent years of elevating our game nationally, so that we are more prepared for the level of racing we see when we travel for races.”
According to Shumway, there is a learning curve going from national to Olmpic competition.
“Ideally, before you get to the Olympics, you have had some international racing experience, so you are more prepared for the grand scale at which you are competing,” she said. “I think the first race can be a shock, but hopefully your mental and physical preparation leading up to it will allow you to calm down and just do the work you’ve trained so hard to do.
“I have the utmost respect for my U.S. teammates,” she added. “I know the work that we all put in, the ups and downs and how hard it can be to be successful at this level. The relationship (between the U.S. teammates) is one of mutual respect and a desire for the team as a whole to be successful.”
Playing sports while growing up in Westlake has had a lasting impact on her athletic career.
“I played soccer from a young age and basketball all through high school,” she said. “Basketball was really where I found an outlet for my work ethic and competitive nature.”
She has high expectations for herself and her teammates this summer.
“Personally, I would like for Sarah and I to have our best performances possible,” she said. “I’d like to make the most of the work that we are doing, to show up, keep it simple and execute.
“Year after year, I see the team raise its level of competitiveness, and I think that the team can do some great things in London.”
As for the future of her athletic career, she is just thinking short term.
“I would love to keep competing for years, but right now my focus is just doing my best to prepare for London and putting my best foot, or oar, forward while I am there.”