Birthdate8 Apr 1997
|BLM1x||USA||FA Final||1||07:06.670||View Details|
|BLM1x||USA||SA/B 2 Semifinal||3||07:03.000||View Details|
|BLM1x||USA||R1 Repechage||1||07:11.320||View Details|
|BLM1x||USA||H1 Heat||2||07:07.770||View Details|
Rising Star – September 2020
Twenty-three-year-old United States sculler Sam Melvin is the reigning under-23 World Champion in the lightweight single sculls. He tells us about how 2020 may have brought upheaval but it's also brought balance.
This year has been... very different from what I had imagined, in a number of ways. Not having a definite race to train towards for the end of the season was unexpected and affected my levels of motivation. For two months from March to May, I took a break from rowing and cross-trained. This situation has also come with upsides. Not having to commit all my focus to preparation for a single race has allowed me to focus on longer-term development, within and outside of rowing.
Right now, I am training... back in my hometown in Southern California. Luckily I have a good training situation here, with access to good equipment and facilities. COVID restrictions have limited me to training exclusively in the single. Things can get a little monotonous not being able to row team boats, but the single is an excellent tool for development so I can stay productive with my training.
The first time I tried rowing was... when I was 14. I was living in New Zealand at the time, and my High School had a small club team that would practice every morning. It took some time for me to start enjoying the rowing itself. What originally drew me to the sport was the excellent community and the shared experiences with teammates.
I keep rowing to... find the best version of myself. Rowing has been central to my personal development over the past eight years and I feel the lessons I've learned and the friendships I've made as an athlete are far more important than any measurable race results.
My most memorable race is... difficult to decide as there have been many. The one that comes to mind is my first-ever international race - the lightweight quad at the world under-23s in 2018. We were definitely seen as underdogs going into the regatta, being a sculling boat from the United States. We had also done some great preparation in the weeks leading up to the championships, however and knew we were capable of being competitive. As we lined up for our heat, we were nervous but also excited to see what we were capable of. We stayed in contention off the start, began to push out in front at the halfway point, and ended up winning the race by a clear margin. It was a pivotal moment for me, where I knew for sure that I wanted to continue to pursue racing at the international level.
My rowing dream is... to continue to make positive progress as an athlete and to have great experiences. The current crisis has reminded me that nothing is guaranteed and that the most important thing as an athlete is to focus on what you can control as an individual. That way you can have peace of mind as long as you have put in a full effort, regardless of external circumstances.
On collegiate rowing vs team USA: Rowing on a collegiate team and rowing on the national team are two entirely different experiences that complement each other nicely. I love rowing for Columbia (University) because I'm surrounded by many rowers, all of whom are equally as motivated as myself. The collegiate season lasts for nine months of the year, seven of which are exclusively training, with only two months of racing in April and May.
The long period of training leading up to the championship season leads to close bonds with teammates. Rowing on the national team, in my experience, has been a much shorter-term tenure. The majority of athletes on the American under-23 team row for collegiate programmes throughout the year, meaning that the national team is exclusively a summer endeavor. American under-23 crews typically train for around six weeks together before shipping off to worlds, meaning national team rowing is much more centered around racing than training.
The balance of collegiate and national team rowing was particularly nice for me in 2019, when I raced the lightweight single at under-23s. This was because I had a great team to train with for the majority of the year, before transitioning into the single in June.
I balance rowing and studying with... time management. Balancing two training sessions per day with an intense programme of study allows for very little downtime throughout the week. It requires one to make use of any chunk of time throughout the day, no matter how small. The ultimate goal is to get everything done for the day as efficiently as possible so that you can go to bed at a reasonable hour.
For fun I... I try to have as much fun as possible during practice, to minimise the need for downtime afterward. But I enjoy almost anything outdoors or water-related. I also like watching TV or having movie nights with friends and teammates.
My favourite food both for rowing and life is... candy. I will never enter a boat without some, it's great for sugar replacement during practice.
The best advice I ever had is... to never place too much weight on what others do or say and to always trust your instincts and do what feels right.