The 2021 USRowing Youth National Regatta, held June 10-13 at Nathan Benderson Park, was an opportunity for junior rowers to make a name for themselves nationally.
One local rower took advantage of that opportunity.
Sarasota Crew junior Eva Harris had the area's best finish in the showcased Youth (U19) division, finishing second in the Women's 1x Final A (8:10.66), just under 10 seconds behind winner Ella Berry of Oak Neck Academy (Bayville, New York). Harris was not a stranger to the Youth National Regatta, having competed in the 2019 event in the Crew's lightweight 8+ boat that finished third overall (6:44.77). She also competed in last year's virtual national championships in the 8+ boat.
This was her first time at the event in the 1x. Even though she had previous experience in front of large crowds, it did not necessarily help.
"You never know what to expect on a national stage," Harris said. "A lot can happen. But it feels good to see it all through and get a medal."
What did help was rowing alongside the U.S. Lightweight Women's Double Sculls pair, Michelle Sechser and Molly Reckford, that is headed to Tokyo for the Olympics. Sechser and Reckford had been training at Benderson Park before February's Olympic Team Trials and decided to stick around. They head to Chula Vista, California, on Friday for final preparations. In the meantime, rowers such as Harris have watched them and learned from them. Harris said she is also lucky to spend time around Casey Galvanek, the Crew's coach and the coach of USRowing's Junior National Team system.
"It's hard to pick out a singular thing he's [Galvanek] taught me because he's given me so much," Harris said. "I show up every morning and work hard and he's always been supportive of me. I value him as a coach."
Harris has been rowing with the Crew since her freshman year. She began as a member of the varsity 8+ boat, a sign of her skills. It was only in 2020, during the pandemic, that she began rowing alone more often. She couldn't be close to other rowers, but she could hit the water in the 1x. So she did. The move worked out.
Harris was one of approximately 2,800 rowers competing at the Youth National Regatta. They represented 183 different rowing clubs. Normally known as the Youth National Championships, the event's name was changed by USRowing in the wake of a decision to include U17 and U15 events to the U19 events instead of holding them separately. As a result, the regatta became the largest of its kind in USRowing history.