Getting to Know the Athletes

14.04.2015 BY: National Rowing Foundation

Getting to Know the Athletes

Seth Weil Vicky Opitz, stroke of the men’s 4- and bow of the woman’s 8+ at the 2014 World Championships, had a few words to share with us. Talking of their starts in rowing, the rough races they have had and even a bit of advice that has helped them in their success.

 

Seth Weil 

The basics – Where are you from? Where/When did you learn to row? What University did you attend?

I was born and raised in Menlo Park, California and I learned to row as a walk on at the University of California, Davis.  

What other sports did you play growing up? Do you think any of these affected you positively in your transition to rowing?

I spent most of my time Windsurfing and Sailing. During the summer I would teach sailing camps in the morning and then go out and windsurf with my friends for the rest of the day. I’m not sure if windsurfing itself helped, but seeing people learn how to control their bodies definitely helped when it came to receiving coaching later on in rowing.  

What is your fondest memory of rowing to this point?

My fondest rowing memory is tricky…I can throw out a few contenders though. Being able to race the last two World Championships. Winning Lucerne as a team was awesome. In general, traveling around the world with friends is tough the beat. Last, but not least, winning the intermediate single at Club Nationals!

What is your most embarrassing rowing memory, flipping, ejection crab and the like?

Getting last place at head of the Charles in the 1x! I am still incredibly glad I raced this particular race.

You have had a pretty incredible run in the 4- since you have been on the team, what has that been like?  Did you feel like there was any pressure when you first joined that boat in 2013 after the performance after the olympics?

Oh man… The first year on the team I was a bit overwhelmed by everything.  To be honest, I didn’t have any mental space to think about the Olympics… or even the next five hundred meters.  At that point I had limited my responsibilities (thankfully my teammates picked up the slack) to just pulling hard and trying to slot into the rhythm as best I could. I also think the attitude on the team was also very forward thinking. It was a new cycle with new challenges etc.

For other young guys still in school or just finishing and hoping to join the team what advice would you give? You took a less traditional route before you joined the team would you recommend that to anyone else?

Go get experience.  Find out where the fastest guys are in your area and go train/race/watch them.  You can never find a substitute for experience. Ask if you can watch a workout or join in on one.  Race in races you have no business being in. It is unlikely you will be invited to gain the experience you need so find a way to get it. It takes thick skin and a lot of rejection. Doing anything well is all about the details — the things people don’t write or talk about.

Lastly, what is one interesting fact about yourself that not many people know?

The tendon in my right pinky finger is severed so it doesn’t bend correctly.  Keep your digits away from garbage disposals!

 

Vicky Opitz

Vicky Opitz

The basics – Where are you from? Where/When did you learn to row? What University did you attend?

I am from Middleton WI.  I attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison. (Go Badgers!)  I went to a learn to row camp at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before my freshman year of college there.

What other sports did you play growing up? Do you think any of these affected you positively in your transition to rowing?

Growing up I played a lot of tennis.  This was my main sport till I got to college.  Before Highschool I did dance (ballet, tap and jazz) and swim team.  Highschool I was tennis, basketball, and soccer. I would say all of these affected me positively in my transition to rowing.  I think having sports that teach you body awareness and that have different focuses (be it technical or learning to work together with others) help with rowing.

What is your fondest memory of rowing to this point?

Ok, I have two.  The first one is winning Big Ten’s as a team my senior year of college.  We had been so close every year before and 2010 was the year we made it happen.  Senior team memory would have to be my first international race wearing a “USA” uni.  This was Lucerne 2013, most of us in the 8+ were pretty new to senior team racing and didn’t really know what to expect.  We went out there looking to do our best…we won and set the new world record…it was fantastic!

What is your most embarrassing rowing memory, flipping, ejection crab and the like?

Hard to choose the most embarrassing rowing memory – there have been a lot!  The memory I remember most “fondly” was racing at Club Nationals at Oak Ridge summer 2009 with Grace Latz (former Wisco/ current Senior teammate).  We were racing the pair and were doing pretty well going into the last 600 meters. Then the boat just started to sharply veer off course.  I think we were in lane 2 and did a 5 lane sweep in which we finished off the course…we still came in second though!

When you think about your future in rowing, do you think just about Worlds this year, or do you think long term also, the Rio Olympics and beyond?

I try to concentrate on the here and now, trying to improve and getting a little better every day.  If that keeps happening I hope to keep going and see where that takes me.

It has been said that you may be the happiest person on the Senior Team.  How important do you think a positive attitude is to helping you survive the day to day grind and achieve long term success?

Ha ha!  Not sure how I got that title but I am flattered.  I think it is important to have a positive attitude to survive not just the day to day grind but also long term success.  On a day to day level, rowing is a sport were sometimes things can be going really well and sometimes…not so well.  It’s important to realize that some days aren’t going to be your best no matter what and if you can think about them in a positive way and at least learn something from them then it’s better. Long term positivity is easy.  I love the sport of rowing and training with such a great group of hard working, funny and talented women makes it a joy to do.

You are also known to be quite a connoisseur of donuts.  What makes a good donut? What is your favorite type of donut? Who makes the best donuts?

I can not deny that I have a major sweet tooth when it comes to donuts.  How is it possible to pick a favorite type of donut?!?!?  Ok, first, there are a lot of different types…glazed, twist, cake, fritter, sour cream, filled, sugar, frosted, yeast, french cruller, etc.  What makes a good donut is the texture, for example a good sour cream donut should be kinda crunchy on the outside with a very dense cake on the inside.  If I only had to pick one to eat for eternity it would probably be a cake donut with chocolate frosting.  Who makes the best donuts?  I’m going to have to give a shout out to Federal Donuts in Philadelphia PA.  They make great sugar donuts that are different at each location and they have the most interesting flavors that keep changing, thus, I have to keep going back to try them! 

Lastly, what is one interesting fact about yourself that not many people know?

One interesting fact that many people may not know…..I have my SCUBA license.  Nothing like learning how to scuba dive in the cold waters of Wisconsin!

 

 

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