DARIEN, Conn. – Darien High School seniors Kate Tyrrell and Kylie Maier jumped on the fast track with the Connecticut Boat Club rowing team. Now the girls are getting ready to end their abbreviated careers with a big finish for the nationally decorated program.
Tyrell, Maier and Norwalk-based CBC begin the spring season this weekend at the San Diego Crew Classic. Tyrrell and Maier are among the girls who have come further and faster than just about anyone in the four-year-old program for coach Liz Trond.
Tyrrell, who will attend Clemson, is completing her first full year of rowing on the CBC varsity. Maier, who will attend Penn, is in her second varsity year. Now they’re among the CBC linchpins as the club tries to sustain its reputation as an elite national program.
“Right from the beginning, I was totally committed to it,’’ Tyrrell said. “I enjoyed all of the other sports that I played, but this is the first one that I really loved coming to practice each and every day. I loved the coaches, loved the team, loved the sport.”
Tyrrell played field hockey and lacrosse, traditional Darien sports for girls, before committing to rowing full-time. Maier played soccer and ran cross country when two friends with CBC invited her to attend a practice. She stayed with rowing, while her friends dropped off.
“My first practice I rowed 2,000 meters, which is really unusual for the first time,’’ Maier said. “My friends asked me why I came back. I just loved it. I never would’ve guessed back then that it would’ve taken me this far.”
Both girls credit the team atmosphere at CBC for their swift ascent in the program. “In my first season of rowing, Liz put me with two varsity boats and had me train with them,’’ Maier said. “She had them doing drills to help me. Everyone on the team is important, and everyone helped each other.”
“I watched and learned from last year’s captains, Abby Stevenson and India Knight,’’ said Tyrrell, who is co-captain this spring with Meg Galloway. “I was mesmerized by them. I know it’s a big responsibility. I’m honored by the fact that Liz is trusting me to take care of the girls and motivate them. It’s really flattering.”
Both girls showed promise last spring. Maier rowed on the Junior Varsity 8+ that won gold at the Northeast Regional championships. Tyrrell rowed on the gold-medal winning Novice 4+ and Novice 8. Last fall, Maier helped the Varsity 4+ win gold at a regatta in California, and Tyrrell was on the Varsity 8+, which won silver.
Maier and Tyrrell realize the team is under a microscope this spring. The team has lost a boatload of talent over the past two years due to graduation. CBC sent two teams to the national championships last year and its Varsity 8 team, the signature event in rowing, is a perennial national contender. Teams across the country are expecting this might be the year CBC falls back.
“We’re ready to make a name for ourselves,’’ Maier said. “Everyone has been working hard this winter. We’re hoping to put that same power on the water.”
“We’re still over here in Connecticut,’’ Tyrrell said about teams who might be doubting CBC. “We have so much heart on this team. I think we have the capability to look across the water at these other teams and surprise some people.”
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