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Sarasota Crew rowers set for Youth Nationals


Lakewood Ranch High junior Sam Obine-Galvin (middle) will row at his first USRowing Youth Nationals at Nathan Benderson Park June 6-9 in the Sarasota Crew first varsity boys 8+ boat.
Lakewood Ranch High junior Sam Obine-Galvin (middle) will row at his first USRowing Youth Nationals at Nathan Benderson Park June 6-9 in the Sarasota Crew first varsity boys 8+ boat.
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Sam Obine-Galvin was in for a shock. 

Although Obine-Galvin was not new to rowing when he joined Sarasota Crew in August 2023, he had never experienced rowing like the Crew does rowing. 

Obine-Galvin, a junior at Lakewood Ranch High, moved to the area from the lower east side of New York City. He rowed there, first becoming interested after trying an indoor rowing machine at a local gym, then transitioning to the water. He found success there, winning a state championship at the novice level. 

Yet after moving, Obine-Galvin found Sarasota Crew to be on a different level.

Lakewood Ranch High junior Sam Obine-Galvin said the hard work that goes into rowing becomes worth it when you hear the roar of the crowd during big races.
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"It was a whole new world," Obine-Galvin said. "Training was harder and I had to get used to the heat. It's an intense (training) plan made for pure speed, and it works." 

Obine-Galvin started in one of the organization's bottom boats before proving himself, slowly working his way up the team's depth chart. Now, Obine-Galvin has earned a spot in the Crew's boys first varsity 8+ boat at the 2024 USRowing Youth National Championships, coming to Nathan Benderson Park June 6-9. 

Obine-Galvin is one of six Crew rowers representing the East County area at the event. Lakewood Ranch graduate Sophie Bell, who will row for Old Dominion University next season, is in the girls varsity 2x. Reese Franquiero, a junior at Parrish Community High, is in the girls second varsity 8+ boat. Jenna Khalil, a freshman at Lakewood Ranch, is in the girls U16 8+ boat. Landon Hess, an eighth grader at Dr. Mona Jain Middle, is in the boys U15 4x+ boat. Iaroslav Shuman, an eighth grader at Mona Jain, is in the boys U16 8+ boat. 

For Obine-Galvin, Youth Nationals will be his first time competing in a national-level event. He's excited, he said, because the team's training has him feeling prepared. Sarasota Crew Head Coach Casey Galvanek is renowned, currently helping the U.S. men's rowing team in Lucerne, Switzerland, at the World Rowing Cup II.

Obine-Galvin said the Crew instructs its athletes like Galvanek instructs Olympians, and with the same level of intensity. They are on the water at every opportunity, with days off being rare. With training taking a lot of Obine-Galvin's time, he said, academics can sometimes get sidelined. He is thankful for people like Lakewood Ranch social studies teacher Ben Hall, who understand the work required and tries to make Obine-Galvin's school-rowing balance as easy as possible.

Rowing can take a toll on the body, too, Obine-Galvin said. Workouts are grueling, he said, and it is not uncommon to feel close to passing out. But it brings him closer to his teammates. When big races like Youth Nationals arrive, the end result of all the effort is worth it. 

"At the end of a race, your legs are on fire and your lungs feel like they are about to collapse in on themselves," Obine-Galvin said. "Your arms are dead. Your back is dead. You're getting tunnel vision. Your ears are ringing so you can barely hear the coxswain yelling at you. But in that last minute of a race, you feel the crowd. It's like entering the Thunderdome, just pure noise. It's such a rush. All you want to do is go as hard as you can." 

Obine-Galvin said his boys first varsity 8+ boat is confident that it will perform its best.

Lakewood Ranch High freshman Jenna Khalil said rowing at events like Youth Nationals is "an honor." She will be in Sarasota Crew's U16 girls 8+ boat at the 2024 event.
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For Jenna Khalil, the rush of Youth Nationals will not be quite as new. Khalil picked up valuable experience by participating at the 2023 Youth Nationals, finishing third in the C Final (8:31.25) in the women's U16 4x+ boat. Though it was not the finish she and her teammates wanted, it helped shape her perspective on the event heading into 2024. 

"It's an honor (to row in it)," Khalil said. "You work so hard to get there and everyone else worked hard to get there. It's mind-blowing to all be together competing."

That attitude feeds into how she prepares. Khalil is a calm rower, she said. Before races, she does not say much to her teammates in the boat other than "good luck." She's too focused for more than that, she said; she knows she'll have to be at her best, controlling her adrenaline, in order to do well. 

In the U16 girls 8+ boat this year, Khalil believes she and her teammates can reach the event's A Finals. Get there, and anything can happen next. 

"If we work together and stay positive, we can do well," Khalil said.

 

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Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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