Recent Olympia High graduate Jacob Sheldon has been a member of the Orlando Area Rowing Society for seven years. Through those years, he racked up numerous awards — including being named Most Valuable Teammate in 2019 and 2021, while also winning the sportsmanship award in 2020. Sheldon will be attending the University of Florida in the fall.
When did you first get into rowing?
In the summer after fifth grade, my friend, Caden, asked me to do a learn-to-row camp through OARS, and I did that, and I just ended up really liking it, so I started rowing right after that.
What has kept you in the sport for so long?
I think most of my motivation comes from my teammates, and it’s like the coaching staff at OARS and my family who have all pushed me really hard and want me to be the best that I can be, and that’s kind of rubbed off on myself and also makes me want to improve.
What’s been your favorite part about being at OARS?
My favorite part about being at OARS is meeting so many different people and becoming so close with others.
What was that first year like in rowing for you?
My first year, I was probably the complete opposite of how I am now. I was not in good shape, I had no cardio. … When I got to rowing, I realized it’s more intense, but it’s a lot more fun. I just realized how much more time and effort I was able to put into this sport and also see the results that came back with it.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since you first started?
Physically, I’m a lot different than when I first started — I’m in great shape, and I look a lot better than I used to. I think my biggest overall change is probably mentally, because I have a much higher self-conscious level.
What is your favorite part about rowing? The most challenging part?
My favorite part about the sport barely has to do with the actual sport, but I love fixing the boats and dealing with more of the hardware that comes with the sport — like putting stuff together, fixing up the boats and getting them ready for races. The most challenging part is probably the whole physical aspect, because you can never just train one area — you have to train anaerobic, aerobic, muscle, endurance and everything all at once.
You’ve won a handful of awards the past few years at OARS. How does that make you feel?
It made me really happy to realize that people on the team recognize how much time and effort I try to put into the sport. It felt really good, because whenever I’m there, I try to constantly be helping out — whether it’s giving advice to younger rowers or if it’s just helping set up for practice.