Women’s 8+ Golden at Sarasota Invitational
Several rowers are cancer survivors or heart patients over 60.
The Sarasota County Rowing Club Women’s 8+ charged to first place during the Sarasota Invitational Regatta this past February 23 at Nathan Benderson Park. The boat, nicknamed the “Eight Grand” because all the rowers are over 60, includes cancer survivors and cardiac patients. The crew first formed in late January specifically to row in the regatta.
“Mary Prindiville, Marybeth Home and I started talking about racing a quad of women over 60, and it grew to eight interested fast, fierce women rather quickly,” said rower Libby Beene.
A fellow rower, Carol Gray, lost her life to cancer a few years ago. After realizing several of the women in the boat were cancer survivors, the team decided to dedicate their row to Gray, who would have been 60 this year.
Many of the women have been rowing for years and were experienced with competition. The crew practiced together a couple times per week ahead of Sunday’s race with Sarasota Scullers Coach Randy Higel. The team had a strong start and kept up with the top boats through the first half of the race. With 150 meters to go, coxswain Mary Chadsey called a sprint for Gray. The team beat several younger crews, some half their age, for a gold medal finish.
“I do not think of myself as an age, but just as the person I have always been,” said rower Nancy Paul. “When a boat comes together it is almost hard to explain unless you have been there, and I am proud to say we were there.”
The crew hopes to inspire other older women to remain active and to attract new athletes to the sport. After tasting success at the Sarasota Invitational, the women plan to represent Sarasota County Rowing Club at the OARS Masters Invitational in Orlando, March 9.