The Road to London is a series focusing on current and former Princeton athletes training for the 2012 Olympics. See the rest of the series here.
Princeton’s presence at the Olympic Games runs deep, as Tigers medaled in all kinds of events since the first games in 1896. Yet no sport is more heavily represented than crew. Of the 128 Princeton competitors at the Olympics, 45 have been rowers. As one of the University’s largest athletics teams, Princeton crew has been represented by a student or alumnus at the past 12 Summer Olympic Games. This year is no exception.
Sam Loch ’06 will make his return to the Olympics this year in London, rowing in the men’s 8+ for Australia. And, although the United States will not name its teams until June 25, Caroline Lind ’06 looks to have a practically guaranteed seat in the women’s 8+ after being part of the gold medal-winning boat in Beijing in 2008.
Lind began rowing just 12 years ago but quickly developed both a love and aptitude for the sport. She was part of the women’s 8+ boat that won gold at Worlds 2011 in Slovenia, and at the Fall NSR 2011 race she and a teammate took first in the long course of the W2-.
“I think the fact that Princeton sends so many rowers to the Olympics really speaks to its long and successful history in the sport as well as its dedication to student athletes,” Lind said. “It really shows that Princeton always has and hopefully always will be a leader in the sport.”
Lind has authority to speak on the Tigers’ rowing prowess, as her rise to the forefront of international rowing took off at the collegiate level. In her senior year at Princeton, Lind rowed in a boat that went undefeated throughout the season and won the NCAA Championship by open water.
“My rowing experience at Princeton was incredible,” she said. “I had the best coach in the country, and the best teammates and the best school to back the program up.”
Lind rowed seven-seat at the last Games, in which the U.S. beat the Netherlands by a narrow 1.88 seconds.
“Crossing the finish line with the women I had been working toward this goal with for years was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and I am truly grateful for being able to be a part of the 2008 8+ boat and hope to be able to compete again this year,” Lind said.
Loch is guaranteed to return to the competition this year, but the Australian team is by no means guaranteed to win. With Loch rowing in two-seat, the crew took sixth in Beijing, falling behind Canada, Great Britain, the U.S., the Netherlands and Poland, finishing 11.21 seconds out of first place.
Loch has been a strong contender at the international level. At the 2011 World Rowing Championships, he won the bronze medal in the men’s 4- and a bronze medal at the 2010 World Rowing Championships in the men’s 8+. He also took seventh in the men’s 8+ in 2009 and 12th in 2007 as part of the men’s 4-.
At Princeton, Loch was a member of the heavyweight men’s team that went undefeated throughout the regular season and went on to win not only Eastern Sprints, but also the Henley Royal Regatta in England.
Loch could not be reached for comment, but on his blog on “Concept2 Rowing,” he said he hopes to be part of either the men’s 8+ or 4+. On his profile for the Australian National Team, Loch was asked to finish the quote “When I was growing up I wanted to be a:” and he answered with “Olympian.”
He achieved that dream in Beijing, and this time he said he hopes to take it even further by joining Lind with a possible medal. These Princetonians seek to represent not only their alma mater but also their respective countries in the hunt for first and the feeling of victory that only winning a 2000-meter race Olympic rowing can bring.
“Winning a gold in Beijing was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and the depth of the emotions were so strong,” Lind said. “I was so at peace knowing that I gave my all to my teammates and my coaches and my country to represent them all well.”
Update: Robin Prendes '11 will also compete for the U.S. in the men's lightweight four.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/05/11/30948/