Lips, Szokol, Wagner All Representing United States
Yale rowers Maddie Lips, Kim Szokol and Kristina Wagner are ready to showcase their skills against international competition. The three are in Linz, Austria, as part of the 20 crews that will represent the United States at the 2013 Under-23 World Rowing Championships, which begin on Wednesday.
"It means the world to me to be representing the United States in rowing," said Wagner, who is racing for U.S. Rowing for the first time. "It's been a long time coming, and it was well worth all the miles spent on the water."
Wagner, a rising junior who stroked Yale's second varsity to a fifth-place finish in the grand final at the NCAA Championships last spring, will compete in the women's pair with partner Elizabeth Fitzhenry, who attends Harvard.
Szokol, a rising senior who will sit in the two seat of the women's four, also is making her US Rowing debut.
"Representing the United States is something that I have always strived to achieve," said Szokol. "There is nothing more honorable than representing your country. The countless hours on the erg and in the boat are all worth it when the chance to represent your country is on the line. I've been counting down the days until I can put on my United States uni at the world championship and represent my country in addition to Yale."
Szokol walked on to the crew team at Yale after playing tennis in her freshman year. She helped the varsity eight to a second-place finish at the Ivy League Championships this spring after sitting in the varsity four that finished fourth in the grand final at the NCAA Championship in her first year with the team. She was the recipient of the team's Chris Ernst Award in 2012.
Lips, who will be the captain of the 2013-14 Bulldogs, is the veteran of the three. She raced in the women's single at last year's World Championships in Lithuania, placing 15th, and will compete in the same event again this year.
"I was pretty disappointed with my finish last year, and I'm just so happy to have another shot at it this year," said Lips, who has sat in Yale's varsity eight in each of her first three years. "I learned a lot in Lithuania about managing the pressure of racing a single at Worlds, and what to expect from that level of competition. The single sculls is usually one of the toughest events at Worlds, and I hope to use what I learned last year to improve on my finish."
Despite her finish, the experience in Lithuania was memorable.
"Just to have the opportunity to face the best U23 crews from all over the world while wearing a USA unisuit is thrilling," Lips said. "I think the greatest thing about going to Worlds is how it brings together people from all over the world who are united by their passion for the sport of rowing. It sounds corny, but it will never not be overwhelmingly awesome."
Lips, Szokol and Wagner all qualified for the World Championships at the trials in New Jersey last month.
"What was really amazing at trials was sharing it with my Yale teammates," Wagner said. "Having three of us qualify on the same day was awesome. Seeing them succeed in their goals was just as great as succeeding in mine."
All three know rowing at Yale has helped prepare them to compete at the international level.
"Deciding to row at Yale was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made," Szokol said. "Under the guidance of [head coach] Will Porter, [assistant coaches] Jamie Snider and Sarah Trowbridge, I feel more than prepared. With all of their respective backgrounds in rowing, and the training program they have us complete, I could not be more ready for this experience."
For more information on the 2013 World Championships, click here.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity