WILTON, Conn. Throughout her childhood, it appeared as if Robin Ritchey was programmed to excel at water sports.
The adventurous Wilton resident is adept at sailing, swimming and rowing, all activities she honed while growing up along the Fairfield County coastline.
When Ritchey tried rowing in ninth grade, it was a natural fit. She has since dedicated her training toward the sport and now will be spending the summer training with the Junior National Development Team, a program designed to prepare rowers for the rigours of National Team development. She is a candidate for the CanAmMex team an international team that competes directly against junior team members from Canada and Mexico.
Ritchey is wrapping up her first year at SoNo Rowing , where she teamed with doubles partner Olivia Clark of Norwalk on a successful spring season. Ritchey and Clark caught the attention of national team coaches as they competed and won medals in regattas up and down the East Coast.
It has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, Ritchey said. We worked hard through the winter and spring, focused and determined on our own abilities and self improvement as opposed to thinking of the other crews.
SoNo coach Chris Wyant challenged team members during the winter to amass more than 1 million meters rowed. Ritchey was the only rower who did.
Chris provides a single challenge at the beginning of each season, Ritchey said. I wanted something to push me and something to strive for.
Ritchey is one of the building blocks for the SoNo program. The clubs focus is placed on the athletes to be bona fide boat movers who have the ability to compete against larger programs.
It's a lot about evaluation now, Wyant said. Because we limit our team to 24 athletes, we need to make sure that those in our programs have the drive and focus to be a part of our team."
Ritchey sought out SoNo after talking to various classmates that all rowed at various programs. Knowing her size would be seen as a hindrance at other programs, she came to the club looking to be coached on how to row and race as opposed to being a coxswain.
"What I like about this team is that there is always room for development and improvement,'' Ritchey said. "I like being a part of a team where there is always time to sit down and talk to my coach about goals and expectations, to have a dialogue with all of my teammates, and be a part of a program that cares about my academics as well.
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