Rising Star – November 2016
Sarah Dougherty, 22, from the United States, graduated from rowing with the University of Washington to training with the national team in Princeton, New Jersey. She was part of the gold medal women’s eight and four at the 2015 and 2016 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. Dougherty learned about rowing through her older brother who rowed at university. “I remember watching his first fall regatta in 2011 and thinking it looked really weird.” She made the switch from top level swimming to rowing when she went to university. “Rowing literally walked into my life at the exact moment swimming stopped working out for me,” says Dougherty. “I took my first rowing stroke in September of 2012.”
The thing I like most about rowing… it is such a team sport. When you're in a boat with other people there's something absolutely magical about rowing together. I love communicating about how the boat feels, or getting each other fired up. One person’s failure is an entire boat’s failure, or one person’s success is everyone’s success. You share every positive and negative thing together and that's very rare in sports.
A typical day… I wake up around 6:15am, pour myself a large cup of coffee and make a bowl of oatmeal. We warm up at 7:30am, which includes some running and dynamic stretching. Training lasts about three to four hours with a small break, depending on the day. In between sessions I have more coffee and journal the session.
Coach and his/her style … My coaches are Tom Terhaar and Laurel Korholz. I haven’t been coached by them too much yet, but so far I’ve really enjoyed their attention to detail in everything we do. Both Tom and Laurel keep things simple and make sure we know the purpose behind what we’re doing.
Relationship with the erg… is currently fine. I don't mind it at all, as long as I can get into a rhythm and have some good tunes playing I try to differentiate the erg itself with erg tests.
When I'm not rowing… I enjoy coaching, watching TV, grocery shopping, or just relaxing with some friends. I also love to cook so I try and spend some time looking up recipes and trying new things out.
Favourite music … I'm a huge music fanatic. I love Jay-Z, Odesza, Banks, Beyonce, Drake, Shapeshifter, Tom Misch, and others.
Favourite boat class… All types. Small boats are fun because you have a little more control and can feel how the boat moves a bit more than you do in the eight. The eight is also; being in a big boat that goes fast with other people who want to go fast.
My teammates… are level-headed. We realise the process we are in right now is a long one, and we will always need to have each other’s backs through good times and bad. It's so awesome to be here with a group of athletes who are here to do the work and have fun doing it.
I admire… Ginny Gilder. She was in the silver medal winning quadruple sculls at the 1984 Olympic Games and was cut three times from the national team before she made it. Kerry Simmonds, Megan Kalmoe, and Adrienne Martelli - they guided me through this national team process. Also Patricia Obee (Canada). She won silver medals in the lightweight women’s double sculls at the Rio Olympics and I got to row with her. She taught me a lot about boat feel and she brings a very special quality of morale with her. I strive to be an athlete like her every day.
Favourite rowing result is… a tie. First is getting fourth place as a team in 2015 at NCAA’s (United States university championships). Secondly, breaking the under-23 World Best Time in the four this year. The night before our final we watched the ‘death crawl’ scene from (the football movie) Facing the Giants. The theme of the scene is about how you can do much more than you think you can if you really give something your ‘absolute best’. The next day at the 1km mark in our race, two seat said, “drive it.” The whole boat surged forward and we gained open water over Romania and The Netherlands.
My strengths… my ability to work with other people. And weakness… I’m addicted to coffee.
If I could have dinner with any three people… Barack Obama, Beyonce, and Jimmy Fallon.
My dream eight… Cox: Sam Ojserkis, stroke: Amanda Elmore, 7: Helen Glover, 6: Meghan Musnicki, 5: Elle Logan, 4: Hamish Bond, 3: Eric Murray, 2: Myself, bow: Erin Cafaro
Always in my fridge… Greek yogurt.
Before a race…I try to not think about rowing or the race at all. I’ll usually watch my favorite movie, Chef, listen to music, or read a book.
My long-term goal… To make the United States Olympic team for Tokyo 2020. A longer term goal would be to make the 2024 LA team, but we’ll just see how this year goes.
In five years’ time… I see myself being done with rowing for a few months and traveling around with my family. A lot of things have been put on the back burner because I’ve chosen to row full time across the country from them.
If I was an animal… a giraffe. When I was swimming my teammates would tell me my backstroke start made me look like I had a long, giraffe-like neck.