DURHAM, N.C. – Before Duke rowing senior Meagan Lew enters her final season as a Blue Devil, GoDuke.com reflects back on her time on the water.
Lew has been an active member of the V8, 2V8 and 3V8 boats and has the most experience with the V8. As a freshman, Lew competed in one race as part of the 3V8 before transitioning to the 2V8 and V8 during her sophomore campaign.
Lew served as the coxswain for the 2V8 for the majority of the year before ending the campaign with the V8. At the Carolina Cup, the squad earned ACC Crew of the Week honors with the second-fastest mark in Duke history. Lew was a member of the V8 for the ACC Championship as the boat placed second in a year-best 6:20.444 mark in helping the Blue Devils to a second-place overall finish, its best at the event since 2006. Lew closed out her sophomore year at the program’s first NCAA Championship appearance and finished 18th overall.
As a junior, Lew was a member of the V8 for the entirety of the season as the boat captured the Carolina Cup title and was named the ACC Crew of the Week. Lew was also named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll for her efforts.
Outside of rowing, Lew was a member of the inaugural class of the Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement (ACE) Program in the summer of 2016, where she traveled to India to teach and coach youth with a focus on educational and leadership development through sports.
GoDuke.com recently sat down with Lew to reflect on her time at Duke, discuss goals for the upcoming season and learn what DWR means to her.
How do you know coming to Duke was the right decision for you?
ML: “I know Duke was the right decision for me because I don’t regret any of the experiences I’ve had here. At Duke, I’ve formed relationships that I’ll have for the rest of my life and have grown so much more as a person and athlete than I ever would’ve anticipated before freshman year.”
What have the relationships you’ve formed here meant to you and how have they added to your experience?
ML: “The relationships I have formed are what I value most at Duke. I have found my best friends here and I could not have made it this far without them. They understand what I’m going through when things get tough either with rowing or school and have been my biggest support system. Having my best friends on the team adds another level of drive when it comes to achieving our goals. It’s easy to work hard every day when you’re doing it for girls you love and respect. There is nothing better than getting to achieve great things on a team with your best friends.”
What will a degree from Duke mean to you?
ML: “A degree from Duke will represent the opportunity I have had to be a student-athlete at a world class institution and all the lessons I’ve learned in and out of the classroom.”
What has been your proudest academic achievement throughout your three and a half years?
ML: “I had a really challenging course load during my fall semester junior year. In the spring, I was really determined to bounce back and be on top of my courses. I went from having my worst academic semester in the fall to getting my highest semester GPA in the spring and I am really proud that I was able to turn the year around.”
What is one lesson Duke rowing has taught you that you will carry over to the rest of your life?
ML: “Duke rowing has taught me to never be embarrassed of the goals I set and to be resilient on the path to achieving those goals.”
What is one team goal you all have for the season?
ML: “To win ACCs.”
How has your role changed from being a freshman to a senior?
ML: “The biggest change over the past four years has been becoming a more vocal leader on the team. My freshman year was an adjustment period to college rowing and I didn’t compete much that year. Sophomore year was a big transition period where I gained a lot more confidence to become a more vocal leader. Becoming more vocal and leading by example has been the biggest change for me during these four years.”
What does Duke rowing mean to you?
ML: “Duke rowing has been home for me for the past four years. Being part of this team has shaped every aspect of my Duke experience and getting to surround myself with strong, driven women is really empowering.”
What is one of your favorite memories from being a part of the rowing family?
ML: “My favorite memory so far has been at ACCs my sophomore year during the V8 final. We were in third place for most of the race, then sprinted early and walked through Syracuse. They came back during their sprint and it was a tight race for the last 20 strokes. We came in second with a photo finish. It was a surreal moment and I was proud that all of our hard work paid off. The team came so far from the year before and it all came down to the last 750 meters of that final where we all just trusted each other and went for it. All of our boats had really tight races and did what they needed to do for us to get a bid to NCAAs.”
How do you plan to lead your team this year and how will you define success?
ML: “I plan to lead the team through vocal leadership in and out of the boat and by working with the senior class to establish the team culture we want. A key part of our success will be checking in with our team culture throughout the year. I will define success not only by whether or not we achieve our team goals, but also by knowing that we did everything we could throughout the year to achieve our goals.”
What role are you embracing this year that you haven’t in past years?
ML: “One role I’m embracing this year is being a unified member of the senior class. Our class brings a lot of different strengths to the team so it’s been great to work with my class to lead as a unit and be liaisons between the team and the coaches. Our class has also been working hard to create a strong team culture that will put us in a position to achieve our goals in the spring. We are all committed to making this year the best one Duke rowing has had so far and it’s exciting to get to lead our team as a united class.”