Rowing: A Different Perspective

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Lucien (far left) competed in a four-person boat with Port Rowing.

For recent North High grad Lucien Wostenholme, rowing is all about gaining a different perspective. Because of what he describes as “the mechanics of the sport,” rowers actually row with their backs to the course before them, rather than facing the direction in which they are traveling.

Whereas drivers must keep their eyes on the road and runners focus on whoever’s
ahead of them, rowers watch the shore recede further and further into the distance. As a result, “you get this total picture of nature and the surrounding area,” Lucien explained.

This view is not available to his younger brother, Oscar Wostenholme. As a coxswain, Oscar is the only one in his boat facing forward; he does not row. His teammates depend on him to provide motivational instructions and to steer the boat straight toward the finish line; otherwise, they wouldn’t know where they were going.

Before Oscar followed in his brother’s footsteps and got into crew, he played ice hockey.

“My dad thought it was pretty dangerous for me to be a goalie with bigger kids rushing at me,” he said. “I’m pretty underweight, too. I was interested in being a coxswain, at least trying it out, so I tried it out and I really liked it.”

In just his first season, Oscar coxed his boat to victory at the state championship meet in Saratoga Springs.

Leading up to state and national championships this past spring, the brothers trained at Bar Beach with their club, Port Rowing, six days a week.

“Winning states—everything leading up to that was definitely worth it for that moment,” said Oscar (center).

“I’m actually closer friends now with the people on my team than with a lot of people at North,” said Lucien, whose boat came in fifth at nationals. “I think that’s definitely cool, just to have a different perspective, to know people from other schools.”

Toward the end of the season, the brothers went to practice twice a day, once before school and once after. Lucien would wake up at 4:45 a.m., go to Port Washington, train, then drive back to school at 7 a.m. At the end of the day, he’d go right back to Port Washington, where he also coached autistic athletes. No doubt, it’s been a huge time commitment.

“But I never dreaded practice, always looked forward to it,” said Lucien.

As successful as Lucien and Oscar have been at crew, their friends at North “don’t really know much about rowing,” noted Oscar.

Contrary to common misconception, Lucien points out, “It’s actually 50 percent legs, I would say, and only 20 percent arms, and the rest is your core strength. We get this question a lot—‘oh, your arms must be jacked’—but no, they’re not.”

Next year, Lucien will attend Cornell University with hopes of making the varsity rowing team.

“It’s a really tough team to crack the lineup for, especially because they won the national championship this past year, but it’s something I’m really trying to dedicate myself to and work toward.”

As for Oscar, he has three years left of high school and intends to enjoy them coxing.

“After every practice, I’m always happy and excited, and eager to go to the next practice,” he said. “At school, I’m excited for the next practice, hoping that the day will pass, so I get to go to practice.”

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