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Taking my spot in the third seat, I face the coxswain as she commands our boat. As we push off the dock, adrenaline runs through my veins. As my stomach leaps into my throat, hands sweating, I tenuously maintain my grip on the oar. As the “new girl,” I am the least experienced of the eight rowers. One error could upset the motion of the entire boat. Riding alongside our boat, the coach calls out drills through her megaphone: “Bow four, let's start out with ten continuous strokes!” I interpret her instructions as being directed towards me. Heart racing, I lay my body back in the ready position. Pulling the weight of the water using the power of my legs, I take my first stroke of the day. We repeat this sequence nine more times. The coxswain commands, “way enough." In other words, "stop." In complete harmony, my teammates and I lay our blades flat on the water, stopping the movement of the boat.

The crew tryout was two-fold, beginning with a three-mile run. Three years running track and cross-country have prepared me well. Next, there is a six thousand meter timed row on the stationary rowing machine. The key to succeeding is maintaining a low split; the harder you pull, the lower your split. This was my greatest challenge. The...

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