U.S. Rowing Masters National Championship | Saugatuck Rowing Club a team for all seasons

jdill@bradenton.comAugust 17, 2013 

SARASOTA -- Eve Green is 81 years old.

Rickey Visinski is 28.

They represent the oldest and youngest competitors on the Saugatuck Rowing Club at this week's U.S. Rowing Masters National Championship held at Nathan Benderson Park.

They also signify the beauty of rowing: It's a sport that lasts a lifetime.

"There's age groups in rowing. So as you get older, you really get faster in a way -- because everyone else is slowing down," said Green, who snagged a gold medal Friday. "You just have to be sure that you don't slow down as much as everybody else does."

The Saugatuck club boasts the largest contingent in this week's meet, with 45 participants who made the trek from Westport, Conn.

On Friday, club members collected 11 medals, including three golds.

And they did so with rowers of all ages.

Take Visinski, who went to the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004. He's the youngest member from Saugatuck who made the trip to the Sunshine State, and his path into rowing came from needing a fall sport to occupy his time during his high school days.

"One of my buddies was coxing for the club here," Visinski said. "Because at the time, we didn't have a high school team. And he was like, 'You're tall; have you ever tried rowing?' I

hadn't, so I said I'd give it a shot. And it turned out, it went pretty OK."

Meanwhile, Green took a different route to rowing after spending a career teaching science and math to seventh- and eighth-graders.

The oldest female competitor at this week's meet found herself the perfect size as a coxswain some 19 years ago.

Green didn't stay in that role for long and soon became a rower.

Along the way, she has become a breast cancer survivor, while keeping her passion for rowing.

"My major worry was that they were going to mess something up so I couldn't row," Green said as she reflected on beating breast cancer.

That didn't happen, and Green continues gliding along the water.

While Green's and Visinski's paths into rowing differ, their paths have crossed before: Green taught Visinski in school.

And now they're part of the same rowing club, one where Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss -- known for their roles in the founding of Facebook, portrayed in the movie "The Social Network" -- got their start.

And speaking of that film, Green and others have their own social network with the Saugatuck club.

But rowing isn't just about that. It's also about the rigorous cardio workouts and the ability to compete.

"It's hard to believe that the gap in ages are so much," Saugatuck coach Florian Tudor said. "But we encourage people to do this sport. It's great exercise."

Another attraction is the search for perfection, much like golf.

"It's something you'll never master," Saugatuck club member Wallace Shaw said. "Every time you go out, it's different. And every time you go out, you're always looking for those 100 perfect strokes. If you get half of them good, you're doing well."

Saturday's action resumes at 8 a.m. with heat races, before the finals start at 10:15 a.m. The four-day regatta wraps up Sunday.

So far, Saugatuck members say they are pleased with the facility in north Sarasota County.

"It's great how the race course lays out," Saugatuck club member Mark Kammert said. "And you sort of finished in that area there in big circular patterns. Great patterns, because half of the time boats are crashing into each other in the water. It's very nicely laid out."

Jason Dill, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7017.

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