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Women's Champ Singles

By Lauren Thomas
Posted on October 22, 2023
Women's Champ Singles

Michelle Sechser returns to the dock one championship and $10,000 richer.

Inspired Run Earns Michelle Sechser Title and $10,000

As she soared past the Cambridge Boat Club in her flyweight hull, Michelle Sechser couldn’t believe it when she heard ‘Michelle, you’re winning,’ screamed out by her friends onshore. When she heard it a second time, she kicked it into high gear.

“I thought ‘oh, oh my god. I have to go’ you know, the fatigue is really starting and I’m like ‘I have to go,’ and I just started counting tens to the line,” Sechser said. “So I’m so grateful for the people, you know, on the shores, cheering and giving that feedback. It certainly helped.”

At the CBC mark, Sechser’s bow was just five-tenths of a second faster than Olympic gold-medalist Emma Twigg’s, by the finish line, she had stretched it to more than four seconds.

“You have to just fearlessly go up against these people, even though on paper, you know they’re taller, bigger, better, stronger, more experienced, and so it was a ton of fun,” Sechser said. “I knew I was going to have to just take a moonshot of a race, so I did. I completely overpaced it…That was kind of the race plan was to just throttle it and kind of tow the line of the fly and die. That’s where the races are won, I think, is the fearlessness to fly and die.”

Another incentive to throttle it all the way through was the chance at the $10,000 cash prize. When the prize money was announced, many of Sechser’s US Senior National Team teammates decided to enter, and she signed up to join the line with them.

“That’s a great cash prize to bring in such top talent because it certainly sweetens the deal, Sechser said. “It’s pretty exciting to see it happening in rowing, so it’s definitely new for me and it’s also fantastic because [the Regatta was] able to offer an equal payout for men and women and a lot of sports don’t, so I really appreciate that.”

Sechser had not rowed a single at the Head of the Charles in nine years as she has focused her career on the double, where she was 2020 Olympian. Rounding the Newell corner, she was dangerously close to rowing over the buoy line and had to pause and readjust, which she feared cost her time, but also helped her recover her focus.

“I think part of this race is like, you can’t get so caught up in worrying about the line that you forget to, you know, hold your rhythm, hold your technique and row as hard as you can,” Sechser said.

The rainy weather and the wind in the basin also provided some challenges for the lightweight Sechser in her small boat, forcing her to cut her warmup short as waves in the basin threaten to swamp her.

“It’s an outdoor sport… and you can have this perfect plan about a warmup with power 10s and starts and builders and all these things, but it’s never going to go according to plan,” Sechser said. “I think being able to be like okay, it’s not what we planned, I still can do this. I still feel good, and not letting any negativity bring you down for your goals for the race.”

Despite the chop before the start, Sechser still made time to crack a joke to her teammates, with whom she’ll row in a USRowing championship eight boat Sunday, about rowing through heat stroke in Italy last summer.

“When my World Championship teammates started entering, and I kind of heard that all of the top heavyweight scullers in the US were going to enter it was like, I’m a lightweight, but they’re the best of the best, and I wanted to see how I stack up against them,” Sechser said. “And it’s certainly more fun to have everyone here on our national team.”

The fun takes place more often off the water, as Sechser is currently staying with Kristi Wagner and Sophia Vitas, who rowed in bows three and five respectively.

“There’s sort of this moment where I flip a switch and now I am a competitor and I’m here to win,” Sechser said. “It’s nothing personal, which I think is the number one rule: this is a professional job we all do. And at the start line, it was fun to banter with them — we were all absolutely freezing and soaking wet…It’s fun to just be able to kind of have that balance of friends and competitors, and I’m just so grateful everyone walks that line so nicely.”


By Lauren Thomas
Posted on October 22, 2023