Gainesville Area Rowing builds foundation for fall season

Addy Matthews (left) and Sophie Goldstein of the Gainesville Area Rowing team advanced to the U.S. Rowing Nationals held on June 6.
Addy Matthews (left) and Sophie Goldstein of the Gainesville Area Rowing team advanced to the U.S. Rowing Nationals held on June 6 where they finished fifth.
Photo by Kristi Goldstein

Last year, Gainesville Area Rowing (GAR) celebrated its 25th anniversary.

GAR is a local non-profit dedicated to promoting the sport of rowing in the Gainesville/Alachua County area.

They ushered in their 26th year with a new head coach and rowing director in Garrett Bauer, who has been coaching GAR at different capacities for many years.

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“This year has gone better than I previously expected,” said Bauer, who began coaching in 2021 as a middle school coach, followed by the high school level. “The athletes really locked in back in January and we immediately began seeing the results. It has been a bumpy ride, trying to motivate athletes to find their limits while promoting a safe and fun environment, but I feel as though as a team we have nailed that on the head. We now have one of the best foundations to build from going into next season starting in the fall.”

Bauer said this past season has been spent “not just learning how to row but how to be a good team player.”

“As a coach, it’s my job to provide the tools necessary to a team to achieve success, the foundations of which are built on teamanship, trust and the ability to communicate with one another and a coach,” he said. “We have knocked this aspect out of the park and now we are in a great place to achieve even more next year.”

GAR concluded the year with two boats and six athletes competing at USRowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota. The club qualified two boats for the national competition at USRowing Southeast Youth Competition in May.

Taking the gold at SE Regionals in the Women’s Youth 2-event, with a time of 8 minutes,10.06 seconds (fifth in the nation) and a commanding lead of 12.55 seconds, were Sophie Goldstein of Forest High School in Ocala, who just completed her first year of rowing, and Addison Mathews (Gainesville High School), who joined GAR as a sixth grader.

Gainesville Area Rowing team's Addie Matthews (left) and Sophie Goldstein advanced to the U.S. Rowing Nationals held on June 6.
Photo by Kristi Goldstein Gainesville Area Rowing team’s Addy Matthews (left) and Sophie Goldstein advanced to the U.S. Rowing Nationals held on June 6.

The duo, who finished fifth at nationals, is in excellent position to start the season strong next year as Goldstein is a rising senior and Mathews is a rising junior.

“Addison and Sophie are athletes that don’t leave results up to chance,” Bauer said. “They are willing to outwork their competition any day of the week and they carry this determination even between seasons. Through sheer determination, they were able to condition their bodies to make themselves ready to perform at the national level.”

Additionally, Bauer said they are incredibly coachable.

“They are willing to listen to what a coach has to say and be focused on making either the goal we are shooting for, or the technique change we are aiming to implement,” he said. “Both athletes are able to effectively communicate with each other and with me as a coach, which I think is the main driving element to their success.”

Meanwhile, the Men’s Youth 4- posted a season’s best at nationals 6:48.190 (19th in the nation), improving their time by nearly 30 seconds.

The crew was composed of Matthew Krzykowski (PK Yonge High School), a rising senior next year, and rising juniors Miles Loyd (Buchholz High School), Mason Turek (homeschool), and Eli Wells (Buchholz High School).

“Our Men’s 4-, also referred to as a strait four or coxless four, is a young crew,” Bauer said. “The boat is comprised of three sophomores and one junior. The majority of the competition in Youth categories at USRowing Youth Nationals are juniors and seniors. Seeing how the boat is so young, purely though natural progression as the athletes move into their later years of high school they will begin to get faster.”

Bauer said these athletes are “incredibly motivated to succeed and that fire will only grow.”

“I believe that their speed will only grow at an exponential rate over this next year and with that comes the possibility of state and regional championships as well as a possibility at a medal at Youth Nationals,” he added.

Not only do these athletes get a shot at prestigious medals, but it’s also a chance for rowers to be recruited by competitive college teams.

This past spring Caroline Pulliam (Gainesville High School) signed with the University of Tennessee as a coxswain. The Vols’ rowing team is currently ranked No. 3 by the NCAA.

“Caroline Pulliam is what we refer to in rowing as a Coxswain or for short cox,” Bauer said. “They do not hold an oar or contribute to the propulsion of the boat but nonetheless are an essential part of the success of the crew. The Cox’s job is to steer the boat down the racecourse, pick the fastest route and provide motivation to the rowers.”

James Hebebrand is entering the Coast Guard Academy and has signed to row with their program.

Up next are GAR’s Learn to Row camps, which are the perfect opportunity for sixth-12th graders to get into rowing.

With each session, you will grow your understanding of the rowing technique, including stroke mechanics and boat handling.

You’ll experience the importance of teamwork and collaboration, working together in sync with your teammates to achieve a common goal.

Gainesville Area Rowing team's Addie Matthews (back of boat) and Sophie Goldstein with coach Garrett Bauer.
Photo by Kristi Goldstein Gainesville Area Rowing team’s Addie Matthews (back of boat) and Sophie Goldstein with coach Garrett Bauer.

This camp provides a full-body workout that focuses on strength, endurance, and flexibility, plus an opportunity in small and friendly rowing competitions with fellow campers.

“Our coaches will guide you every step of the way, ensuring a fun experience,” Bauer said. “Whether you’re looking to get a head start on the fall racing season or just try something new, our Learn to Row camps are the place to be.”

Weekly sessions are available the next five weeks beginning this Monday, June 17, through Friday, July 26, and run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., with multiple weeks available to fit your schedule.

GAR includes a high school program, a middle school program and a Masters (adult) program. For more information about GAR, email Bauer at headcoach@gainesvillearearowing.com.

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