Isaiah Harrison’s journey to becoming a world-class rower didn’t begin on the water. Rather, it started on an ergonomic indoor machine.
In fact, his rowing machine at home is an important part of his training while he competes in the U19 Junior World Rowing Championships, which are scheduled for August 11-15 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Winning a place in the US national team at the U19 Youth Nationals was the culmination of a remarkable week of June in Sarasota, Florida, during which Harrison also took first place in the US Rowing Youth National Regatta and a second place in the U23 national team Tries.
“One thing about rowing indoors is that you really learn what your body is capable of and you can control your movements and your body,” said Harrison, an 18-year-old native Coeur d’Alene. “We translate what we have learned into the water.”
Harrison has firmly established himself as an elite rower at the national level with the regatta victory. His subsequent results at U23 national races and U19 youth national championships confirmed that he is the rower to beat in his age group.
“One thing I’ve always excelled at is that whenever I start at a level above my own, instinctively and intuitively I want to step up to that level,” said Harrison. “That’s why we’re moving up a class and one of the reasons why I started in the U23. As soon as I see where the competition is, I want to go up against these guys. … As long as there is someone who is faster than me, I want to hunt this person.
“It is still a motivation for me, because there will always be someone who is faster than me. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy competing and rowing. Rowing is really a simple form of competition. Everyone starts at the same time and whoever is the technically more demanding rower wins. It’s pure, it’s easy. In this respect, it is a really unique and beautiful form of competition. “
Harrison admits he has an advantage in every race. At 6-foot-9, he benefits from leverage and rudimentary physics in ways his competitors don’t. Coupled with his incessant devotion to finding the perfect shape on the water, this advantage played out in the U19 youth nationals, where he rowed in the 2,000-meter youth individual final with a margin of 5.4 seconds.
Harrison completed the race on the straight in 7: 12.92 minutes, well ahead of runner-up Tristan Wakefield from Iowa. Wakefield had competed against Harrison in the regatta earlier in the week, but Harrison was the only rower to attempt triple the race in the U23 trials, where he finished second a day before the U19 final.
“My only other competition had two days off before returning to the race,” said Harrison. “My biggest concern was whether participating in the U23 would affect my performance in the U19.”
Harrison praised his concentration during the race to resist any temptation to let the exhaustion of the building tarnish his week.
“I repeated every stroke to myself: ‘I will do everything I can to win this race.’ One at a time, ”said Harrison. “After the race I really let the fatigue overtake me. But until then I couldn’t. “
Harrison will be a senior this fall, receiving home schooling from the Trinity Home Educators Cooperative. His training for Junior Worlds in Bulgaria includes 4-6 hours a day on the rowing machine or in his Hudson Ultimate Super Predator – a full carbon skull 9 feet long and weighing 32 pounds – on Lake Coeur d’Alene as many as six days a week, said Harrison.
Harrison also helps out his father Joa’s business activities as a clerk. It was Joa’s interest in rowing at a local gym that sparked his son’s interest in the hobby. It was his father’s wallet that has funded Isaiah’s persecution since he started competing at the age of 12.
“Because there are no international rowers in Coeur d’Alene or the surrounding area, I am largely on my own,” said Harrison, who was one of the few rowers, if at all, not tied to a club or club at the Florida races School program. “My family (including mom Kristie) was my support team. They were my teammates, my managers. My father financed everything I did for me. … Now let’s move on to fundraising for international competition. “
Harrison has never traveled to Europe and has no international racing experience, so he’s not entirely sure what to expect when he arrives in Bulgaria. However, he has goals and desires.
“As for expectations, I know what I’m capable of,” he said. “That is my expectation: to compete at my level of competence. If I can do that, if I can keep up where I feel comfortable and compete at my highest level or higher, then that’s what I’m looking for. That would be my expectation. “