By Alina Kelly
Oyster Bay High School junior Giselle Grassi competed at the US Rowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota, Florida, after an amazing race at the New York State Rowing Championship, where Giselle raced her single and came in first place, qualifying her for Youth Nationals.
Giselle departed for Sarasota on Tuesday, June 4th, accompanied by her mother and coaches. On Wednesday, Giselle was able to practice on the racecourse, located in Nathan Benderson Park.
On Thursday, Giselle raced in time trials, which determine if one will make it to semifinals. After racing the 2000-meter racecourse, she finished 6th place with a time of 7:52.
On Friday, Giselle was able to rest and prepare for semifinals on Saturday.
At 7:21 am on Saturday, Giselle raced in the semifinals. As coaches watched from the park, Giselle’s teammates watched from their phones on a livestream provided by US Rowing. Giselle came in 4th place in the B Semifinal, which qualified her for B finals.
Racing began at 7 am on Sunday, beginning with A finals, followed by B finals. Giselle raced her single at 9:13 am. Teammates watched the livestream and were filled with excitement as they saw Giselle in first place, approximately a full boat length ahead of the second place boat. Giselle finished with a time of 8:11.564, beating the 2nd place boat by 6 seconds, and also beating the 6th place boat in the A final by .312 of a second.
Giselle’s friends, family, coaches and teammates are incredibly proud of her amazing finish. When reflecting on her race, Giselle said, “I was leading the entire race with a boat-length gap at the finish line. When I crossed the line, the first thing I said to myself was ‘I just did that!’ I was surprised and proud of how hard I pushed myself both mentally and physically this entire year, especially during that race. In the last 300 meters of the race, it was becoming very painful, and I already knew I was going to win, but I wanted to go faster and see just how much I could win by. Crossing the finish line first is always a great feeling, but this time is really special because I know that there is still hard work to be done, and I can still be better next year.”
Although it may be smaller than others, Sagamore Rowing Association is a superior rowing program. Giselle has shown the whole nation just how great Sagamore is. She was able to beat rowers from bigger, well-known teams, which speaks to how well Sagamore serves its rowers.
Sagamore Rowing Association coaches Jason Moskowitz and Julien Blythe have been helpful in preparing Giselle for Nationals. For the four weeks prior to Nationals, Giselle has been training hard; in addition to attending practice after school, she practiced before school as well. Giselle is grateful for her coaches, stating, “Throughout my rowing career, Julien and Jason have pushed me both mentally and physically. Leading up to NY States and Youth Nationals, I was training harder than I have ever trained. Both of my coaches offered extended practice hours before school and at night to help me push my limits and train at a competitive level. The continuous support from both Julien and Jason on and off the water concerning my training, diet, grades and personal life helped me to become a better athlete - mentally too, which is a major component of rowing the 1x.”
When asked about her goals for next year, Giselle revealed, “Next year my goal is to train hard enough to return to Youth Nationals again in the single scull and race for a gold medal. My dream is to represent USA on the world stage, and I am striving to accomplish that in the 1x. Next year the Junior World Rowing Championship is in Yugoslavia, Slovenia. If not in the single scull, I would like to race in one of team USA’s multi athlete boats at Junior Worlds as well. Most importantly, my goal is to bring the rest of my women’s team along with me to Youth Nationals next year and have us represent Sagamore and Oyster Bay on a larger scale in team boats such as the quad and 8.”
The entire Sagamore team, as well as the Oyster Bay-East Norwich community, is immensely proud of Giselle and hopes to see her accomplish all of her goals in the future.
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