More from Spencers Experience
"The US Rowing selection camp is a two-month tryout for the USA Junior National Team, racing this year in Trakai Lithuania. After three weeks of selection, the coaches had cut the original 50 athletes down to 25 athletes trying for 22 spots in boats. On the last day of selection, I lost a seat race by three seconds, and the coaches let me know to buy a flight home that night. After four days of being home I got a call from the coach of the men’s eight telling me that a guy in the boat had an old injury return, and in case he couldn’t row, they were going to fly me out for at least four days to train with the boat. When he didn't recover, I became bow seat in the Junior Men's Eight.
On July 26th the whole team made the eleven-hour flight from JFK airport to Helsinki, Finland, then down to an airport in Lithuania. For the next week we adjusted to the time change and practiced twice a day on the racecourse, rowing past the beautiful 14th century Trakai Castle.
On August 3rd we raced the heats to find out what final our boat would race in, A or B. Our heat was very competitive, with the two teams we were most worried about, Russia - European champions a month and a half before - and Germany, the defending world champions in the event. We paced the Germans easily and advanced to A finals from a close second place.
I remember a moment when we were at the start line of the race course, and I was hearing all of the other coxswains talking and commanding their crews in German, Russian and British english, and I felt how special it was to be there.
Here at worlds the teams raced differently off the start compared to races back home. International crews will often go out much faster, at above a 40 SPM for over 500 meters, and you have to have be very aggressive just to keep up. In the final we were able to execute that and went out first in the early part of the race with the Germans pacing us. While we were able to sprint away from the UK and Russian in the 2nd half of the race, the Germans had a sprint just faster than ours, and they walked through us at the end, winning gold and us earning silver.
This summer was a roller coaster of emotions, culminating in one of the greatest races of my rowing career and the best summer I’ve ever had."