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Norwalk Teen Jumps on Rowing Fast Track

NORWALK, Conn. – In a little less than a year, Norwalk’s Olivia Clark has worked her way from summer camp rowing novice to a berth this year training with the United States Junior National development team.

It has been a quick ascent for Clark, a freshman at Brien McMahon. Clark and doubles partner Robin Ritchey of Wilton will train with the Junior National Development Team, a program designed to prepare rowers for the rigors of National Team development. Clark could earn a berth on the United States’ CanAmMex team, an international squad that competes directly against junior team members from Canada and Mexico.

Last year, Clark never would have imagined such success. Her mother being a rower, Clark wanted nothing to do with the sport, instead focusing on rock climbing and swimming. After friends began signing up for the SoNo Rowing summer camp, Clark decided to give the sport a try.

Since that initial summer season, Clark has been a force, earning accolades and recognition up and down the Eastern seaboard, setting time standards that make her one of the faster 14-year-old rowers in the nation.

“The most important thing is, she has only just begun in developing a phenomenal work ethic and she's a great student,” said SoNo Rowing head coach Chris Wyant. “Our team is comprised of mainly workers. Olivia has only just begun her journey and she is already ahead of so many.”

In the fall, Clark rowed the single and double to outstanding victories. In her first race, a grueling 3-mile event in a single shell, she won by several minutes. She won by nearly 500 meters in her most recent race.

“That was one of the greatest feelings I've ever had,” Clark said. “It’s a great sense of accomplishment and realizing that I could achieve success in the sport if I put in the time and work. It really helped me put things into perspective.”

This summer, Clark is looking to take the next step and fight for a chance to represent the United States. She is confident her effort will pay dividends.

“You learn a lot about yourself in a boat, especially in terms of what you are capable of,” Clark said. “There comes a point where you want to stop, sleep in, take a day off, but that is when you just have to push harder. It's really a mental challenge above the physical challenge, and I find that really fulfilling for me.”

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