Meagan Goldsmith grabs first place finish at Nationals

Goldsmith, a student at West Orange High and member at OARS, took home first place in the U19 8+ event with her USRowing Junior National Team.

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  • | 10:49 a.m. July 31, 2019
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When Meagan Goldsmith takes to the water, she smiles.

It’s not that she is particularly happy — it is fairly early in the morning — but it helps her deal with what lies ahead on the water.

Each rower has his or her own way of preparing at the USRowing National Championship, and this is hers.

“You sit there for 30 seconds — just sitting there — and the officials are just looking, for some reason, at something,” said Goldsmith, a student at West Orange High and member of the Orlando Area Rowing Society. “We’re all in line, everyone is just sitting there and it’s dead silent, and so smiling just helps me relax a lot.

“There are even a couple of pictures of me sitting at the starting line just smiling,” she said. “No one else is ever smiling there and it’s just me trying to catch my breath and just relax a little and get ready to start.”

From July 9 to 14, Goldsmith participated in multiple races a day, but on this day — Thursday, July 11 — she was rowing for first place in the Women’s U19 8+ event on Harsha Lake in Bethel, Ohio.

The stress of the race itself is a lot to take in, but it was made even more stressful because of the fact that Goldsmith’s U17 Development Camp team was made up of 15- and 16-year-olds, compared to the rest of the field of 17-, 18- and 19-year-olds.

The confusing development all started when USRowing contacted the team’s coach — telling him that the U17 could only participate in the U19 event.

“We were pretty nervous going into it,” Goldsmith said. “Going into it we were like, ‘OK we’re not really expecting to win or anything — we are so young compared to all of these other girls who have so much more racing experience than us.’”

The doubt that had built up leading up to the race would end up being completely unfounded.

In fact, instead of their age being a detriment, it actually worked in their favor, Goldsmith said. Early on in the race, Goldsmith and the team got out to a fast start and they never once looked back.

With a time of 6:32.507, the U17 Development Camp boat finished out in front a solid 3.4 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher — a huge margin of difference.

“We really dominated by being younger,” Goldsmith said. “That race, everyone in my boat agreed that was the fastest race — and the fastest boat — that any of us had ever been in, and it was just so perfect throughout the entire race. 

“It was one of those feelings that, as a rower, you always try to get in a boat, but it doesn’t always happen,” she said. “We finished that race and everyone was just so happy, because of how perfect the entire way down the race course was. There was never a point in that race when anyone had given up mentally or dropped off power … it was just ‘go go go’ the entire way down.”

“That race, everyone in my boat agreed that was the fastest race — and the fastest boat — that any of us had ever been in, and it was just so perfect throughout the entire race."

— Meagan Goldsmith

Goldsmith had only a short time to celebrate that morning, as she and everyone else still had an afternoon race to compete in, but it was a highlight moment for a week defined by an exhaustive schedule.

Every day she’d find herself getting up early in the morning to compete in the first race before taking a break prior to the second race that would occur later in the day. It was a grind, but Goldsmith knew she just had to deal with it the best she could.

“I always just kind of push through it, because I knew that if I pushed through it, my teammates would push through it too —  throughout all the races,” Goldsmith said. “I couldn’t back out of racing, so I just had to go in with a positive mindset or else I’d probably just collapse.”

It’s also a matter of taking in the moment while she could, considering when she first started she never expected to be competing on the national level — though she has already done it on multiple occasions now. 

For the girl who first got into the sport back in middle school — thanks in part to watching her older sister compete — Goldsmith has a lot to look forward to in the water as a rower, but that’s only a small part of the big picture for her.

“The ultimate end goal is to improve myself as a person, and then help all the girls around me get better at rowing and see what I see in the sport, because I’m so in love with rowing,” Goldsmith said. “I just want so many people to experience what I feel as I’m racing.”


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