Emily Regan
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An Olympic dynasty encounters the coronavirus

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Olympic champion rower Emily Regan decided to go public with what she is convinced was a coronavirus infection. Her message: If it can happen to me and my teammates, it can happen to you.

Regan and 11 more U.S. female rowers either tested positive for the virus or were presumed to have it due to symptoms in the spring. Three-time Olympian Megan Kalmoe also posted that she had the virus in March and was sick for two weeks.

All 12 rowers in the Olympic selection pool had trained, before showing symptoms, at the national team center in Princeton, N.J. All 12 recovered, said Matt Imes, U.S. Rowing high performance director.

The Princeton center is best known for producing the greatest American sports dynasty over the previous three Olympic cycles.

The U.S. women’s eight rowing team won all 11 Olympic or world titles between 2006 and 2016, a run that bettered the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams. The streak finally snapped in 2017. A key storyline over the next year will be whether the Americans can regain the top spot and extend their Olympic streak to four straight titles.

Now, it will also be about a program, which includes the eight and smaller boats, returning from a frightening spring.

Regan and coxswain Katelin Guregian are the only Americans who were in the eight boat for the Rio Olympics and all of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 World Championships.

Regan, in a lengthy Facebook post, wrote that she and teammates between ages 23 and 37 came down with coronavirus symptoms days after a U.S. national team staff member tested positive in late March.

“As most of my teammates started to recover from their acute COVID symptoms, I started noticing a fever on April 1st,” wrote the 32-year-old Regan, a four-time world champion dating to 2011. “That was Day 12 of my quarantine.”

On April 3, Regan woke from a 12-hour sleep with breathing pain and full-body aches.

“Like I had done something really wrong while I was practicing the day before,” wrote Regan, who, like her teammates, had been training on her own since New Jersey’s stay-at-home order on March 21. All 12 rowers began showing symptoms after leaving the Princeton training center due to the stay-at-home order, Imes said.

Regan’s fever intensified, ranging from 100.4 to 101.7.

“I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without needing to sit down and take a nap,” she wrote. “Not only did I sleep for 12 hours that night, but I also took a 3 hour nap. I was too weak to make myself food that entire day until I forced myself to make pancakes that night because I knew I had to eat something.”

After two days of the worst symptoms, it took Regan the rest of April to be able to train normally again.

She went through periods of rowing on a machine at the pace of an average high school girl. She felt like she carried an extra 50 pounds while working out.

“As of today, over 3 months after my symptoms went away, I am working on getting back into the shape I was in in early February and March before all of the setbacks,” she posted on July 7. “I have teammates who were dealing with complications from COVID for over 2 months.”

Regan did not take a coronavirus test, but a later antibody test came back positive.

Imes said Monday that three female rowers tested positive and nine others were presumed positive, confirming a Buffalo News report.

“We had reduced our group size and stopped rowing in team boats,” Imes said, according to the newspaper. “We stopped rowing in eights and fours. We reduced it down to two people or less. We were doing social distancing. We had taken our training outside. We weren’t utilizing the boat houses as much. We were doing what we thought was prudent and following all the guidelines and actually doing more than what was asked of us at the time.”

Regan considered herself a low-risk individual. She can’t remember her last time at a bar or other crowded place. For much of the last decade, she focused on being in the best possible shape to be selected for one of the strongest U.S. Olympic programs.

“If you don’t think the virus is that big of a deal because you are young, healthy, or fit,” she wrote, “please consider my story.”

MORE: Katelin Guregian’s last call in rowing

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Posted by Emily Regan on Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Ex-Paralympian rower found dead during California-Hawaii voyage

Angela Madsen
AP
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HONOLULU — The body of a paraplegic woman rowing from California to Hawaii was headed to Tahiti after she was found lifeless in the water over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

A friend of Angela Madsen, 60, contacted the Coast Guard Sunday after not hearing from her for more than 24 hours, Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir said.

Madsen, who had been at sea for 59 days, was about 1,145 miles (1,842 kilometers) east of Hilo, Hawaii, when she was last heard from, Muir said. Madsen had been planning to go for a swim.

“She was out in the middle of the ocean, with not really anything around,” Muir said.

The Coast Guard reached out to commercial vessels in the area of Madsen’s last known location and asked an Air National Guard flight crew headed from California to Hawaii to fly over the area.

The air crew “could see that she was in the water, tethered to the vessel, but there was no reaction to their presence,” Muir said. “She was unresponsive.”

The Polynesia, a ship in the area, retrieved her body. “Now they’re continuing on their scheduled course and they’re going to take the body to Tahiti, where the family will do whatever they need to do to get her home to California,” Muir said.

Madsen’s family couldn’t immediately be reached Thursday.

According to a website, Madsen was a three-time Paralympian and Marine Corps veteran who aimed to be the first paraplegic and oldest woman to row the Pacific Ocean.

“We are processing this devastating loss,” said a message on the website by Debra Madsen, her wife, and Soraya Simi, who was making a documentary about her. “To row an ocean solo was her biggest goal. She knew the risks better than any of us and was willing to take those risks because being at sea made her happier than anything else. She told us time and again that if she died trying, that is how she wanted to go.”

In 2014, while getting ready to row from California to Hawaii, she said rowing is a venue where partially paralyzed people can excel.

“You get out of your chair and just get on a boat and nobody knows the difference between you and anybody else out here,” Madsen said.

Who is Australia’s greatest Olympian?

Cathy Freeman
Getty Images
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Australia has competed at every Summer Olympics and is best known for its swimmers, racking up 192 medals, nearly three times as many as its next-best sport, track and field. Despite ranking outside the world top 50 in population, it is eighth in all-time Summer Olympic medals. Australia is also the only nation in the Southern Hemisphere to earn a Winter Olympic gold medal, though this list is made up entirely of Summer Olympians …

Betty Cuthbert
Track and Field
Four Olympic Gold Medals

The only person to win Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 400m. Even more impressive, Cuthbert did it in a span of three Olympics from 1956-64. At age 18, she had bought tickets to attend the 1956 Melbourne Games, doubting she would qualify to compete. Not only did she make the team, she swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, earning the nickname “Golden Girl.” Cuthbert was slowed by a hamstring injury at the 1960 Rome Games, missing the medals. She returned 1964 to compete in one event, the Olympic debut of the women’s 400m, and earned another gold.

Dawn Fraser
Swimming
Four Olympic Gold Medals

Fraser’s medal haul — four golds, four silvers — would have been greater had the Olympic swimming program included the 50m and 200m freestyles in the 1950s and ’60s. Even so, she broke 27 individual world records in her career, according to Olympedia.org. She was so famous in Australia that a daffodil, rose and an orchid were named after her. Fraser’s Olympic career ended with the 1964 Tokyo Games, for she was suspended 10 years for her actions there. The alleged misconduct: Fraser marching in the Opening Ceremony (against Australia’s federation’s wishes as swimmers usually sit out before competing through the first week), wearing a swimsuit that wasn’t official team apparel and attempting to take an Olympic Flag from outside the Japanese emperor’s palace. The ban was reportedly stopped before the 1968 Olympics, but too late for her to race at a fourth Games.

Cathy Freeman
Track and Field
2000 Olympic 400m champion, cauldron lighter

Freeman’s significance goes beyond her gold medal. She was named Australian of the Year in 1998, two years before lighting the cauldron at the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony, a defining moment for her nation’s indigenous Aboriginal people. Ten days later, she lined up for the 400m final in front of 112,524 fans at Stadium Australia and 10 million more Australians on TV (more than half the population). In a green-and-white hooded speedsuit, she prevailed under unimaginable pressure. “Relief,” she said. “It was just relief. It was totally overwhelming because I could feel the crowd all around me, all over me.”

Rechelle Hawkes
Field Hockey
Three Olympic Gold Medals (2000)

The only woman with three Olympic field hockey gold medals. Hawkes debuted with the national team in 1985, the year she turned 18, captained the team from 1993-2000 (when they won every international event save one) and played 279 games for the Hockeyroos through her last Olympics in 2000.

Ian Thorpe
Swimming
Five Olympic Gold Medals

The Thorpedo was one of Australia’s most famous people when the nation was the world’s focus during the 2000 Sydney Games. At 17, he earned three gold medals and two silvers. He was the world’s best swimmer, though surpassed by Michael Phelps by the end of 2003. Still, Thorpe held four world records going into the 2004 Athens Games (200m and 400m freestyles, 4x100m and 4x200m free relays). He won the 200m and 400m frees in Athens, the former over Phelps and Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband dubbed the Race of the Century. Thorpe bowed out from major international competition at age 21, announcing his retirement two years later, citing a lack of desire.

James Tomkins
Rowing (2008)
Three Olympic Gold Medals

A gold medalist at three different Games. A world champion in all five sweep events. His global titles spanned from 1986 to 2004. Tomkins, during his rowing career, also earned a degree in economics and finance, surfed and worked for Bankers Trust, a large bank in Australia.

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