Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 30
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
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RETURN TRIP: Kristin Appelget, far right, competes on a women’s 4 in action this season for Mercer Masters Rowing Club. Appelget, Princeton University’s director of community and regional affairs, joined the Mercer Masters last year, ending a long hiatus from the sport which last saw her row at the University of Notre Dame in the early 1990s.

Rekindling Love for Rowing After Lengthy Hiatus, PU Official Appelget Back on Water for Mercer Club

Bill Alden

After playing three sports at West Windsor-Plainsboro High, Kristin Appelget was looking to try something new athletically when she came to the University of Notre Dame in 1989.

“I took up crew as a freshman, I always thought I would be good at it,” said Appelget, who competed at field hockey, swimming, and softball during her high school career. “I went to the student activities fair and the rowers told me to come out.”

Appelget’s hunch turned out to be correct. “I took to it, swimming seems to be a natural transition,” said Appelget.

“I rowed at stroke; I have a metronome in my head. We had good coaches. I really enjoyed being on the team.”

During her years on the Notre Dame team, Appelget helped the Irish program on its road to gaining Division I status.

“It was a club sport then and we laid the groundwork for what they are doing now,” said Appelget of the Irish women’s rowing program which has won eight straight Big East titles.

“It was a great program for a club; we were fairly serious and rowed against schools like Wisconsin and Iowa. We rowed in the Head of Charles and the head of Schuylkill. We did winter training in Austin, Texas.”

After graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Notre Dame in 1993, Appelget drifted away from rowing as she got serious about building a career.

Appelget worked in the financial services industry until 2002 when she left UBS Paine Webber to become the CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In 2006, Appleget, who also served as the president of the West Windsor Township Council, became Princeton University’s director of community and regional affairs.

Last year, Appelget decided to rekindle her affair with rowing as she joined the Mercer Masters Rowing Club.

“I had always thought about doing it but with work and getting into politics, I was very busy,” said Appelget.

“I was doing aerobics and swimming but that was getting old. I had always thought about rowing. It took someone asking me. I was at a meeting last year with one of the Mercer masters rowers and she asked me if I had ever thought about rowing.”

While Appelget quickly regained the rhythm of rowing upon her return to the sport, she picked up some blisters along the way.

“It is like riding a bike and remembering the muscle memory,” said Appelget, 40.

“As much as I thought I was in shape, I realized that I wasn’t. It was a summer of remembering the stroke and getting calluses.”

At the beginning of last summer, Appelget got her first taste of competition in the water since her Notre Dame days.

“I started in June and in July we were doing a race at Cooper River,” said Appelget.

“One of the people in the boat had a work commitment. They needed a rower to fill in and they called me. I was sitting in the boat in Cooper River wondering what I had gotten myself into.”

Appelget made it through that race and has emerged as a key contributor to the program.

“Competition is a good benchmark and a lot of fun,” added Appelget, who helped the Mercer women’s 8 take second in its heat last Sunday in the Diamond States Masters Regatta in Delaware and will be back in action when the club competes in the Quaker City regatta this Saturday in Philadelphia.

“I am still the tallest so I always row port. I row stroke, 8-seat, 6-seat. It is a great group of people who are interested in staying fit, staying healthy, and having fun. I like waking up at 5:05 in the morning knowing that seven people will be waiting for me on the dock.”

And in the process, Appelget is getting into the routine that enhanced her Notre Dame career.

“It is like college rowing,” said Appelget. “In season, I was much more disciplined with classes and responsibilities. The physical activity and exercise helps me stay focused.”

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