Ah summer, a time to slow down, kick back and relax. Unless you have a need for speed, like Nate Wirth '21 does. The Brooks School crew team member was gearing up for competition even before the school year wrapped, and recently achieved an impressive reward for his efforts.
Wirth rowed fast enough in competition this spring to qualify to compete in a single as a sculler at the national level — and then went on to finish eighth at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships last month.
"I don't think this has ever been done before in Brooks history," said Director of Rowing and Mathematics Teacher Tote Smith P'18, P'20, P'22. "It's quite a feat!"
The rising fifth-former — who began rowing in seventh grade and has dreams of one day competing in the Olympics, à la Brooks School Hall of Famer and three-time, gold-medal-winning Olympic rower Ellie Logan '06, among others — is rightfully proud of the accomplishment. "It's a great feeling," he said after securing his spot at nationals with a third-place finish at the U.S. Rowing Northeast Youth Championships in the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass. on May 19. "I was only able to practice in the 1x a handful of times, and to be able to beat kids that practice in the 1x multiple times a week feels pretty good."
So, just as the lazy days of break began, Wirth got busy preparing for the 2019 U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships held June 6 - 9 at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida (shown below).
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Rowing)
"This is my second time going to nationals," said Wirth. "Last year, I went in the 2x with my best friend. We ended up placing third in the B final. This year, I hope to improve on that result and qualify for the A final."
Wirth came in second in this photo-finish race at nationals. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Rowing).
A full 1,500 athletes, representing 150 teams from across the country, joined Wirth in competition in Florida. He personally had 22 in his Men's 1x category.
And while the Brooksian came close to his A-final goal, he ultimately placed second in the B-final, with an impressive standing of eighth overall.
Wirth's secret? Mentoring throughout the fall and spring from former Brooks crew team captain, Harvard University rower and Head of the Charles masters' race winner Carlo Zezza '53 (above on left), as well as practicing other sports.
"Nate's experience at Brooks is exactly what we discuss when we talk about non-specialization," said Rowing Director Smith. "He ran cross-country and became a strong wrestler this winter, having not wrestled before. Then he helped lead Brooks' first boat to a strong seed in the NEIRA championships this spring."
Crew, however, remains Wirth's first love. "It takes a certain someone to enjoy rowing," the student recently reflected. "There is a lot of time spent on the ergs, in the weight room and on the water. In order to improve in the sport, you must sacrifice quite a few hours with your friends, and family." Yet the athlete does just that and enjoys it, he said "because when rowed properly, a boat creates a certain rhythm that is unlike anything."
The camaraderie helps, too. "I'm very grateful for the supportive coaches and motivated teammates at Brooks," Wirth added. "I know we will accomplish great things!"
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