Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – Emerging from semi-retirement, Pacific Lutheran University alumna Natalie McCarthy will compete in the World Rowing Championships from September 24 through October 1 in Sarasota, Florida.
McCarthy's path to rowing is unique. She ran track in her youth. That was compromised when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that caused her to lose her eyesight. After losing her sight she turned to rowing. McCarthy took a seat in the boat, and found out it was where she belonged.
"When I am rowing, I can set aside everything else going on in my day and focus on my performance," McCarthy said. "It is a great workout, A great escape from stress and provides such important balance in my life."
McCarthy, a 2009 PLU graduate, chose to return to rowing after what went down at the 2015 World Championships. McCarthy's race was canceled. Due to countries with injured athletes, as well as other administrative challenges, the PR3 mixed 2x was taken off of the racing schedule.
She made several sacrifices prior to the 2015 World Championships. They included leaving her job to move to Boston to train full time with her partner to have the race of her lifetime. Suddenly, that race was gone.
"This was very difficult for me to accept," McCarthy said. "I had put blood, sweat, and tears into my training and I was more prepared than ever to have the race of a lifetime and hopefully find success."
Along with the shot at redemption, another factor that led McCarthy to decide to come out of semi retirement for this year's world championships. The first being that they are held in Florida. It's the first time in 30 years that the world championships have been held in the United States.
"Though this is not an exotic location, with the competition in the United States for the first time in 30 years, worlds are logistically simpler than they ever have been or likely will be during my athletic career," McCarthy said. "Not to mention that there is something profoundly powerful about competing for the United States while in the United States."
Another reason that brought her back was that the distance of the race has changed. The para-rowing was 1,000 meters long, but is now 2,000 meters long.
"I prefer the 2000m distance and was a very strong advocate for this change in the para rowing community," McCarthy said. "This is the distance that the senior national team races but also is the collegiate distance so I am reminded of my PLU days"
Alongside her doubles partner Russell Gernette, the two look to make an impact at the 2017 Rowing World Championships.