Team USA rower Allie Reilly shares her journey from high school lacrosse player to Olympic rower.
ALLIE REILLY: I started rowing in college as a walk-on, and then a coach in college mentioned that I might qualify for the para team. So I tried out summer of 2017 and then summer of 2018. Went to World Championships and took home silver medals in 2018 and 2019.
I was a runner and lacrosse player in high school. I did track and cross-country, and then in the spring played lacrosse. But when I went to college, I kind of wanted to start something new. I had done all of those sports for 10-plus years and was a little burnt out. And I knew I was a good endurance athlete from cross-country and saw some flyers around campus for walk-ons for a Division I sports team.
And I think I always had wanted to be a Division I athlete, but in high school I wasn't really recruited and didn't go through the recruiting process. So I kind of jumped at the opportunity to see if I could handle it and see if I could do it. Kind of as soon as I went to those first couple of practices and met the team of incredible women at the University of Rhode Island, I was hooked.
I'm based in Boston right now, so there's a couple of athletes who are training out of Boston with me. But when the pandemic first hit, group boats obviously weren't allowed. You're in pretty close proximity sitting one behind the next, and it would be a bit of a COVID risk. So we were in singles for last summer, so single person boats, which is pretty different from how I usually train. A four-person boat is a sweep boat, meaning one oar per athlete. And a single has two oars per athlete, so it's a bit of a different style of rowing.
I think that was really beneficial in getting better boat feel. A single is a lot tippier and uneven on the water than a four is, so you get a lot better core balance and boat feel that way. Been a little tough not seeing everybody every day like we used to, but we're getting there.