Alison Medlyn’s alarm clock sounded at 3:45 a.m. June 5.
While her classmates were tucked away in their warm beds, the rising senior at Maryvale Preparatory School in Brooklandville was up and out the door, on her way to the Baltimore Rowing Club for a pre-dawn practice.
By 4:30 a.m., athletes and coaches were on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, gearing up for a competition and experience of a lifetime.
“Once on the water, it is beautiful,” Medlyn said. “We watch the sun rise and the water looks like glass.”
Medlyn, the team’s captain, and three others make up the two Baltimore Rowing Club Junior teams that will make club history June 13, when they join more than 1,300 high school athletes at the USRowing Youth National Championship Regatta at Harsha Lake, outside Cincinnati.
Allie Plaut, a 2008 graduate of Mount de Sales Academy, Catonsville, and Emily Bogdan make up the doubles light-weight pair, while Medlyn and Sara Sherrer, another rising senior at Maryvale, make up the varsity women’s doubles. The girls practice six days a week and are committed to making the most of this competition.
After qualifying for the nationals on May 4 at the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic District Championship Regatta, in West Windsor, N.J., the team is now putting in a minimum of 14 miles a day on the water. Their 12-15 hours a week of practice includes conditioning and building core body strength.
Head Coach Aly Covino said that the Juniors program, while fairly new, is slowly but surely taking off, with 22 rowers.
“We have great community support for this program and solid financial backing,” Covino said.
While coaches Covino and Andrew Swiatowicz will load two boats on the hood of their car and head west for a 10-hour drive, their four athletes will fly to Ohio.
The path to the nationals has been both exciting and daunting for the 2008 Baltimore champions. Medlyn and Sherrer have been friends since the sixth grade at Maryvale. Though they just recently entered as a doubles team, both have been rowing since their freshman year.
“It’s hard work, but we are so proud of how far we have come,” Medlyn commented. “It’s really overwhelming when you realize that you are going to the nationals. It makes the hard work pay off.”