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Vol. LXIII, No. 33
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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(Photo Courtesy of USRowing)

TAYLOR MADE: Taylor Washburn is all smiles in his U.S. national team photo taken before he headed to Poland for the 2009 World Rowing Championships. Washburn, a 2008 Princeton University alum who was a team captain and a second-team All-Ivy League performer for the Tiger men’s lightweight crew program, will be rowing in the men’s lightweight four at the world championship regatta.

After Juggling Training and Prep School Teaching, PU Alum Washburn Primed to Compete at Worlds

Bill Alden

Taylor Washburn relished the chance to teach math and coach crew at Phillips Andover over the last school year.

“It was a great experience; it is something I have always wanted to do growing up in that environment,” said Washburn, a Phillips Andover alum who went on to star for the Princeton University men’s lightweight rowing program.

“With my grandfather having taught and my dad having coached and taught, I thought it was something I would like. But it wasn’t until I did it, that I realized how fun and rewarding it is.”

As he immersed himself in campus life in Massachusetts, however, Washburn had his sights on making an impact on the national rowing scene, training for a spot on the U.S. team.

“It was my intention to keep rowing after college,” said Washburn, who was a team captain and a second-team All-Ivy performer for the Tigers during his senior campaign in the spring of 2008.

“It is something I had enjoyed in high school and college; I hadn’t maxed out or peaked yet; I hadn’t gotten my fill of it.”

Washburn learned late last month that he had reached the peak of U.S. Rowing as he made the national team in the lightweight men’s four.

This week, Washburn is in Poznan, Poland competing in the 2009 World Rowing Championships.

Making the team was all the sweeter for Washburn as he struggled through a year of juggling teaching and coaching duties with training.

“It was a lot more difficult than I realized; I didn’t realize how tough it is without out a team,” said Washburn, who kept in contact with the U.S. coaches as he worked to build on the progress he made in his Princeton career.

“I worked out with my younger brother (Parker) and some of the guys on the team. I was able to do a lot of ERG work during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was the best training I had.”

Early this year, Washburn gained a temporary training partner who helped focus his efforts.

“I caught a break, Matt Muffelman came up to Boston and I was able to train with him,” said Washburn.

“We rowed together for a month. We came to lightweight pairs at one of the national selection regattas. Those in the top two were automatically invited to the selection camp; we finished second so that was it.”

Washburn excelled at the camp, booking his ticket to the world championship regatta which will take place from August 23-30.

For Washburn, learning that he been chosen for the U.S. team made him think of the people who have been in his corner in his rise up the rowing world.

Washburn’s father, Pate, is the longtime crew coach at Phillips Andover while older brother Hunter rowed at Navy and older brother Spencer competed and coaches at Princeton.

“When I made the team, I thought about all the people who had helped me,” said Washburn.

“My parents supported me and set an example. I got support from my brothers. I grew up watching them and chasing them. They passed on the good and bad from their experience. Now I have my younger brothers chasing me.”

This summer, Washburn has been chasing the competition as he has gotten the chance to race.

“Coming back this season, I had trained but hadn’t raced,” said Washburn, who raced for the U.S. this July in a World Cup Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

“It was the same thing with my coaching; I was working with them but not getting the release of racing on the weekends. There was a hunger there because I was on my own and isolated. It was really exciting.”

It has been exciting for Washburn to work with the four as it girds for the world competition.

“The big thing is that we have four guys blending styles together; we come from different college and high school programs,” said Washburn, who will be rowing with Will Daly, Brian de Regt, and Nick LaCava.

“We are different in how we row and how we think about rowing. Our coach, John Parker, is working to unify that motion.”

In Washburn’s view, the boat is developing a unity. “We had put in a lot of volume, now we are working on racing and speed,” said Washburn.

“We are still inconsistent right now. There are times where we have a lot of speed when we are racing together. We are having more and more of those moments. I would be worried if we didn’t have those moments. The speed is getting more consistent.”

In assessing the boat’s prospects in Poland, Washburn is taking a patient approach.

“We haven’t had a chance to race together yet,” explained Washburn.

“The real goal is taking a long term focus; to build to next year and the year after. Every time we race, we want to be in position to be in the hunt in the last 500 and in position to go on to the next round. First and foremost is trying to get to the ‘A’ finals; we can’t be thinking about a medal.”

Washburn is thinking about rowing over the long haul. “I was looking to commit for four years,” said Washburn. “I have shown myself that I am competitive at the national level.”

And over the next week, Washburn will relish the chance to show that he is competitive on the international level.

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