Vicky Opitz, named last week as US Rowing Senior Champion of the Year, trained in Philadelphia for more than a year in 2011-12 for all the reasons that have made Boathouse Row a magnet for great rowers for more than 150 years.
“Part of my decision process to train in Philadelphia was its incredible history,” she told me in an interview some time ago. “It’s a mecca on the East Coast,” a place where rowers not only hone their skills but are inspired by each others’ determination.
“If you’re willing to work hard, to push hard, you’ll reach your goals,” she said. That’s a message she learned, training at the Vesper Boat Club, which she has carried with her, helping to carry the US Women’s Eight to gold in four world championships: 2013, 2014, 2015 and this September.
The US Women’s Eight, with 5-foot-11-inch Opitz in the boat in 2013, broke the world record at the World Cup IIl, a lead-up event to the World Championship. The crew rowed the 2000-meter course in 5:54.16 – a speed which remains unchallenged.
Opitz, a native of Wisconsin who is 30 years old and trains in Princeton, was chosen as Senior Champion this year by team athletes and coaches who raced at the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Also named as the male winner was sculler Andrew Campbell Jr.