Olivia Coffey

U.S. Rowing
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U.S. rowers fight back against COVID-19 in real world and virtual world

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In the last month, COVID-19 has affected the U.S. rowing community in many of the same ways the virus has affected all athletes — changes in training routines, a mental reset with the postponement of the Olympics, and at least one athlete falling ill.

What’s unique to U.S. Rowing is that it is still staging a national championship. The federation isn’t violating social distancing protocols or playing video-game tournaments as we’ve seen in sports such as basketball and curling.

Athletes will be rowing. They’ll just be doing so on land.

Welcome to the USRowing Virtual Youth Championships Series.

Rowers have deadlines to turn in times on a 2,000m virtual course, recorded by a Concept2 ergometer. Regional championships will end May 17, with the nationals wrapping up June 14.

Equipment is already in high demand. Rowing machines have sold out as many people — not just elite rowers but those who may or may not have ever rowed on water — seek exercises they can do without access to a gym.

Many Olympic hopefuls have scattered for training as well. Up until a few weeks ago, many were training in Princeton, N.J. One was Olivia Coffey, a bronze medalist in the women’s eight at the 2019 world rowing championships.

READ: Once-unbeatable women’s eight goes into Olympics as world bronze medalist

Coffey fell ill in late March with a probable bout of COVID-19 and left Princeton for Burdett, Minn., where she and her husband have a house, the Elmira Star-Gazette reported.

U.S. Rowing confirmed March 26 that a staff member at Princeton tested positive for the virus.

Dana Moffat, another member of the bronze medalist women’s eight, has posted pictures and videos of herself working in rural New Jersey.

Emily Regan, a gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics and three-time world champion, summed up the situation succinctly on Twitter: “I’ll be training hard in my apartment (for now) to be ready.”

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