Eight years after picking up an oar for the first time Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk of Poland became a junior World Champion in the men's single sculls. For Wegrzycki-Szymczyk rowing was inevitable. His father was a rower and now coaches and Wegrzycki-Szymczyk calls rowing 'a family business.'
For his first time rowing Wegrzycki-Szymczyk proved to be a natural. In a single Wegrzycki-Szymczyk says " I was able to row right away without any help or theoretical explanations. I was quite fast from the beginning." But he says at the beginning he didn't treat rowing very seriously. "I did it mostly for fun and to meet with my friends. Moving backwards wasn’t so thrilling at that time."
Now 19 years old and 200cm tall Wegrzycki-Szymczyk says, "I grow about 20cm in very short period of time. It was a quite shock for me (as well as for my parents). I wasn’t used to being tall… it was a truly strange feeling to be above everyone."
This season I would like... to race at the under-23s in a single. It would be great to fight for a medal there.
I'm most relaxed when... I have nothing to worry about and my mind is clear.
I like rowing the single because... I like the feeling that everything depends on me. It makes me stronger. I like to train alone and have control. I see progress week after week. I know my capabilities and barriers and I learn how to pass them.
My favourite training sessions ... are long cross-country skiing workouts in the winter and short power pieces on the water before the racing weekend.
My toughest race... was during Junior World Championships in 2012 in Plovdiv. I reached the final and I had nothing to lose so I risked and pushed very hard in the third 500m to move to the medal position. I over-calculated my strength and it was hard to finish the race.
Before I race I always... think about tactics and plan the race, by every stroke. In the end I usually race the same way anyway. When I get nervous I focus on the thought that my training is aimed at racing so I should be happy about the coming one.
First 20 strokes or final 250? Final 250. The first 20 strokes are automatic. The last part of the race is always different. Once you get the last 250m you know that the race is either yours or you must fight to the last metre. It’s always exciting regardless of the outcome. The final 250 shows all the weaknesses.
If I could pick my dream crew it would be... a quad with Mahe Drysdale. Olaf Tufte and Ondrej Synek
Where to from here? The year 2014 is special because it is my first year as a senior. So far everything is going well. I made big progress during the winter, I won the Polish senior trials and I look forward to the next races.