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Tri-State rowers represent US in coastal rowing competition

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A couple of Tri-State rowers are headed to Portugal in September to compete in an international coastal rowing competition.

Chris Bak and Cassidy Norton are two of the first people to represent the United States and Greater Cincinnati at the World Coastal Rowing Championships.

“I’m proud to say for both Cassidy and I and the Cincinnati area is that we’re the very first national team ever to go to a world championship event for coastal rowing,” Bak said.

Norton and Bak recently returned from the coastal rowing qualifying event in Florida.

“This is basically the more wild cousin, as a lot of people like to describe it, for flatwater rowing,” Bak said. “Mother Nature is the controller of the entire race. You may be the best rower on the water, but if she brings a wave in and you get hit by that, she controls your destiny.”

Bak has been rowing for almost a decade and used to row for the University of Cincinnati.

Norton is headed to Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania this fall to be on the rowing team there.

She says she was first interested in rowing when she saw a team rowing on the Great Miami River several years ago.

“I was a really closed-off person when I was younger and I think rowing, with the traveling and meeting new people, it’s opened me up a lot to a bunch of new things I probably wouldn’t have experienced if I hadn’t been involved,” Norton said.

They will travel to Barcelona a few weeks before the international competition to train with their national team and then to Portugal to compete.

“I just really want to be able to compete well,” Norton said. “It’s going to come down to less skill and more the ability to recover and use the waves to your advantage. Because power and speed aren’t all that matter in coastal rowing.”

Bak and Norton have the same rowing coach with the Great Miami Rowing Center.

When it comes to replicating ocean waves on the water here in the Tri-State, they get a little creative.

“Marc [Oria] being the great coach that he is, takes the motorboat that he coaches us in drives in circles, creates some waves,” Bak explained. “So, it’s worked out well for us so we’ll continue that.”

For those curious about rowing, Norton says just give it a shot.

“All you have to do is try it out,” Norton said. “You don’t have to like it on your first day. I certainly didn’t like it the first day because we didn’t go on the water the first day. Just stick around, get to know the people on the team and it helps a lot. The reason I stayed is because of the people.”

You can donate to help Bak and Norton get to Spain through this page. The tournament is September 24-27.

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