You can say that rowing is a family affair for the Legenzowskis.
Will Legenzowski, a 2018 graduate of John Jay, rows for Brown University and for the U.S. in international competition. Carly Legenzowski, a 2020 John Jay graduate, currently is excelling in the sport at the University of Texas, where she helped the Longhorns win a NCAA crown.
Next up is sister Brooke Legenzowski, a rising junior at John Jay. She helped her Greenwich Crew Woman’s Youth 8+ team win a national championship in the 2000-meters at the U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota, Florida, on June 13.
Brooke took to rowing at age 10 after watching his broth and sister practice on the water. “I became interested in rowing in elementary school because both of my siblings had started and I wanted to try it out,” Brooke said.
That prevented her from playing other sports since rowing was a four-season sport for her.
Brooke continued, “I love my team and working hard towards something bigger than myself. Seeing how much progress I’ve made since I’ve started and how much progress I continue to make every day keeps me going.”
Like her siblings, Brooke honed her skills with the Greenwich Crew Club which operates out of Cos Cob, Connecticut.
A look at her training regimen tells you that Brooke is not shy about hard work.
“The training for rowing is pretty rigorous,” she explained. “I train six out of seven days a week for three to four hours a day, all year-round. During the spring, summer and fall seasons we go out on the water and practice race pieces to build speed for our actual races.”
Brooke continued, “In the winter, we work out on the erg machine and lift weights to prepare us for our next season. This year, because of COVID, we worked outside in sometimes 20-degree weather.”
Nationals was a four-day tournament that drew 20 teams. The field was narrowed over three races. The top dozen teams advanced after day one with the fastest three eventually making their way to the final.
Due to Covid-19, “There was no qualification races for Nationals” this year, so “anyone could compete, which made the regatta bigger than usual,” Brooke said. “Going into Nationals, my boat was pretty confident because we had won Northeast Regionals and Mid-Atlantic Regionals, but we had no idea how fast the other regions were across the country.”
At Nationals, the Greenwich Youth 8+ team cruised through the preliminary rounds, winning three races by more than a boat length.
“There were three days of racing, each race being 2000 meters long in the hot Florida heat,” Brooke said. “It was the hardest racing I’ve ever faced because I knew there were other amazing teams competing from all over the country.”
Brooke sits in the bow seat of the eight-person boat, “at the end of the boat but the first to cross the finish line,” she explained. “My job is to make sure the boat is set and follow the pace of the seven rowers that are in front of me.”
The final race at Nationals was the tightest, with Greenwich Crew slipping past Row America Rye by half a boat length.
“The final race definitely felt more rewarding because the competition was tougher,” Brooke said. “It was nerve-racking because margins can change so quickly in these races, but I trusted my fitness and the fitness of my boat mates.”
She continued, “There was so much joy after winning the final from my boat and the spectators watching. Because of COVID, this was something we had been working towards for two years, and crossing the line was that moment we realized all the hard work paid off.”
The 8+ boat is just one of several types of vessels that Brooke rows.
“This past season, I primarily raced in the 8, but in the summer, we row in all of the different sweeping boat types which are 8’s, 4’s and pairs,” she said. “I am now also training in my single, which is a sculling boat for one person, as well as a double, which is also a sculling boat with two oars per rower.”
Through it all, she shares advice with Will and Carly.
“I always go to him (Will) when I need guidance in rowing,” Brooke said. “He is competing in the Czech Republic right now for the USA at the U23 Worlds. He is a big role model of mine in the sport, so I trust his advice and my sister’s advice more than anyone else. She is a coxswain at UT-Austin and they won NCAA’s for the first time this year.”
And, like her brother and sister, Brooke has her sights set on a higher level of competition.
“I definitely want to continue rowing at the collegiate level and, hopefully in the future, represent the USA at an international event,” she said.