Rowayton's Brian de Regt named to 2010 World Rowing championship team
Brian de Regt spent the majority of his summer in Europe -- but he only had four days of vacation.
The 24-year-old Rowayton native is on a path to qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games, which will be held in London. de Regt and his rowing partner, Jon Winter, of New Haven, raced three courses across the continent in a span of nine weeks. Despite not achieving a top-three finish, the duo performed well enough to qualify for the World Rowing Championships, and the two were named to the 2010 U.S. Senior National Team, representing the United States at the Championships, which will be held at Lake Karapiro, New Zealand, from Oct 31 to Nov. 7.
Among the competition the duo went up against: 2008 Olympic champions Great Britain and the 2009 World Champions, New Zealand.
de Regt and Winter are lightweight double sculls competitors; it's the only two-man lightweight boat competition that's open for qualification to the Olympic Games. Their margin for error is extremely thin if the two are to get to London. The races the two competed in while in Europe were all for the 2010 Rowing World Cup series, which is a separate class from the New Zealand championship races they'll compete in. The duo took seventh place in their first race, in Bled, Slovenia; fourth in Munich, Germany; and eighth in Lucerne, Switzerland. Their fourth-place finish in Munich is what catapulted them to representing the United States at the World Championships.
"The World Cup is a training series, essentially, for the World Championships," de Regt said. "You can only send one boat in each boat class, and the World Championships are obviously much more prestigious to win. Anyone who wins a World Cup qualifies."
The trip was de Regt's fourth to Europe for rowing, and he said "it was the most successful" of all of them.
It was his second trip to the World Cup series races, but last year he competed while still a part of the four-man boats with Trinity College, which he graduated from in the spring of 2009.
Like the last time, the trip was so much more work than play, de Regt said. Between each regatta the duo had three weeks to rest and prepare -- and train, train, train. In those "down times," de Regt and Winter trained twice per day. There were four days total that didn't involve physical training or racing.
"It wouldn't count as a vacation," de Regt, who now lives and trains in New Milford, said. Though, he did love the sights of the sites he raced at, naming Bled as the most beautiful city he saw this time around.
"A lot of people don't really know Slovenia, but it's like a southern version of Switzerland," de Regt said. "It's the most picturesque place I've ever competed in. There's an island with a medieval church, and near the start line there's a castle on a 300- or 400-foot cliff. And then Georgian Alps in the distance."
There's 21 months to go until the Olympic selection begins, but the building blocks for making his dream come true have already started to mount. de Regt began rowing nearly a decade ago, in 2001, but his dreams of wearing his countries colors didn't start until some time after that. He participated, somewhat in vain, at the Olympic trials in 2008 when he was rowing with Trinity.
After graduating from Trinity, de Regt was selected for the USA lightweight men's quad that raced at the World Championships in Poznan, Poland. He and Winter's other international experience came in 2006, when they won a silver medal for the United States in the lightweight quadruple sculls at the U-23 World Championships in Hazewinkel, Belgium.
It has been a long road of non-stop training and competition since he began rowing at Norwalk River Racing Association in 2001 at the age of 14.
The life he lives now, in New Milford, is filled with travel and training ... and not much else. The 24-year-old gets by on barely more than $1,000 per month thanks to contribution from family and friends, and a $500-per-month per diem he gets from U.S. Rowing, which is funded by the United States Olympic program. He also keeps a blog -- www.gmshps.com/GMSHPS/Blog/Blog.html -- that's filled with video of where's he's traveled to and how he trains.
Now, with the switch from a multi-man boat to at two-man, he said the field is a lot more even, due to the fact so many have had to make the switch he did.
"In rowing, a lot of guys going to the Olympics are older, in their upper 20s, and if they're in a lightweight double they were probably once part of an eight," he said.
He's a full-time rower, though, and it's been that way for a year. He's never been in better shape or more prepared for the world's best.
"From that standpoint, our chances are pretty good," de Regt said. "But I think guys are developing and more and more countries [are now competing]. At the same time, my partner and I realized every time we raced we were a little more competitive and a little more comfortable. I feel like we have the capability and potential to race and beat the best guys."
-- Beth Kohl contributed to this story.