On any given day, you might see Sarah Trowbridge training with the Old Lyme Rowing Association on Rogers Lake.
Today, however, this 29-year-old Guilford native and her teammate Margot Shumway of Westlake, OH, are at the Olympic rowing course in Eton Dorney, 30 miles from London, preparing for their first race in the 2012 Olympics.
Trowbridge first began rowing in 2000 when she joined Old Lyme's Blood Street Sculls and she's been pulling her way to glory ever since. Trowbridge has been on five senior national teams and has five medals from international racing. Her teammate, Shumway, was a 2008 Olympian, and both women have been members of the national team.
Yet earlier this year, Trowbridge and Shumway each had their doubts that they'd make it to the 2012 Olympics. Trowbridge was in the double that failed to qualify for London at the 2011 World Rowing Championship in Bled, Slovenia. At different times in the fall and winter months both women had been cut from the national team training center in Princeton, N.J.
Undeterred, Shumway reached out to Trowbridge to see if she’d be interested in competing in the double-sculling event. Although they didn’t win the selection regatta in Chula Vista, Calif., — which would have sent them to the Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, in May to qualify the boat for the United States in London — they got a second chance.
The two doubles that finished first and second ahead of them in the trials event in Chula Vista declined the offer to go to Lucerne, preferring instead to stay in the national team camp in hopes of winning spots in the bigger team boats. The bid rolled down to the next boat – which was Trowbridge and Shumway's.
They weren't about to turn that offer down!
“I think the doubt Margot and I experienced was all pretrials,” Trowbridge said in a USRowing news release. “We experienced the doubt. We knew in a perfect world we were capable of winning, but we were doubtful we had done enough and were fast enough at that point.
“So we went through that leading up to trials and then post trials we had a truthful conversation, we asked ourselves what went wrong, how were we actually feeling leading into racing and could admit that to ourselves, here’s what we didn’t do, here’s what we have to improve upon.
“Going into Lucerne, I was one hundred percent convinced that we could go and execute our best piece. And the best part about that meant that we had won,” Trowbridge said. “It was never, ‘Oh, we’re going to breeze through this.’ But I knew what we had put in during those five weeks leading into it and some of the hard times and just were really focusing in on what is going to get us down the course at our fastest, at our best, and when we were in Lucerne that’s what we did. We were at our best race and we won.”
Now both of them are determined to do the same again at the Olympics in London.