As the starting flag fell, the sound of 12 oars cut through the river. On July 21, Rockford's YMCA Rowing Crew traveled to Neenah, Wisc. to compete in a 1000m race. The rowers, ranging in age from 15-to-17, usually compete against other high school teams; however, inclement weather condensed the bracket and caused the junior rowers to race against adult teams.
Tension was high as the four of us rowed to the starting line. This was our first race of the season, and we were competing with men twice our size and age. Lined up and ready, each team surged off the starting line and swiftly sped down the length of the river. Every rower pushed through the searing pain in his arms and legs as their coxswain yelled words of encouragement. As quickly as it began, the race ended, and Rockford's teens won by a wide margin.
"It eventually got to the point where we were just over three boat lengths ahead of both teams," rower Andy Slayter said. "I thought it was going to be close, but it didn't seem like any trouble at all once we dug in and moved forward."
Two of the boys raced a mere 20 minutes later and claimed gold again for their team. High off the rush of victory, Rockford is now gearing up for our next race in Milwaukee on Sept. 21.
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