Putting her back into it, every day

With eyes on the future, powerhouse rower Taylor Ritzel is focused on adding yet another gold medal to her collection.

Always athletic, Taylor picked up an oar later than most of the elite athletes in the sport; a 6-foot-2 swimmer, she’d never participated in rowing at all until a letter from her mother sparked Yale’s interest. The school ended up offering her a scholarship without so much as a tryout. The university’s foresight was amply rewarded as Taylor improved steadily and dramatically, earning a solid seat in the Yale varsity eight boat that would go on to win three women’s national championships.

But medal-winning rowing isn’t all glory—there’s pain, and a lot of it, too.

“When I first started rowing, I couldn’t believe you had to go through that. There’s no slowing down, so there’s that moment when you hit a wall,” Taylor said. “But one of my favorite feelings is when I’m prepared to really go through that pain and push it. You can control pain and challenge yourself. It’s scary, but it makes racing so fun. You know everyone else is hurting just as much. There’s not anything physiologically different, you just get to see who is tougher.”

  • 2012 London Games (women’s eight) gold medal
  • 2011, 2010 World Champion (women’s eight)
  • 2007-2010 3-time NCAA champion at Yale (varsity 8)

“I didn’t want to give up swimming. But once I started rowing, I completely fell in love with it. I still feel like I have a lot to learn.”


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