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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Duke Rowing Recruit Spotlight: Sydney Johnson
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 04/24/2018
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DURHAM, N.C. – Head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno and the Duke rowing program are excited to announce the signing of Sydney Johnson to a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to compete for the Blue Devils in the 2018-19 campaign.

Johnson comes to Durham from Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand, and currently attends St. Peter’s Cambridge. Johnson is a member of the Cambridge Club under the direction of Janey Wackrow.

Johnson brings a wealth of international rowing experience to Duke and most recently in 2018 secured a bronze medal in women’s U20 double at the New Zealand Rowing National Club Championships. At the same event, Johnson placed fifth in the women’s U20 single competition and captured fourth in women’s U22 double and fourth in women’s U20 single at the New Zealand Rowing North Island Club Championships.

In 2017, Johnson participated in several high-profile competitions as she was selected for the 2017 New Zealand Junior Rowing Team as part of the Junior Women’s Double to participate at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Trakai, Lithuania. Johnson’s performances were highlighted by a gold medal in the U18 girl’s single and double, as well as silver in the U18 girl’s quad at the North Island Secondary Schools Championships. Johnson also captured silver in the U18 girl’s single and double and also placed fourth in the U18 girl’s quad at the New Zealand Secondary Schools National Championships.

Her competitions in 2016 brought a gold and silver medal as she was selected into the RNZ Girl’s U18 North Island coxed eight and coxed four.

Johnson also has received several awards throughout her years, including the St. Peter’s Cambridge Glenn Family Cup for Excellence in Small Boats Award, the St. Peter’s Cambridge Female Rower of the Year Award and the St. Peter’s Cambridge Full School Color Award.

Outside of rowing, Johnson has lettered four years in basketball where her school secured back-to-back Premier Girls National Championship titles in 2015 and 2016 and were awarded the St. Peter’s Cup for Team of the Year (2015, 2016).

Aside from her athletic accomplishments, Johnson has excelled in the classroom as well. In 2017, Johnson completed and successfully passed the IB Diploma Program, was selected as a prep liaison (years 7 and 8) school prefect and was named to the First Team Senior Leadership Team for rowing. Additional accolades include the Academic Honors Badge (awarded to students with an average of 90.0 percent or higher in top-five subjects), was named a Scholar’s Tie Recipient and is a Silver Owl Recipient (awarded to students with an average of 75.0 percent or higher in each subject while also already receiving a Scholar’s Tie).

What has been your favorite rowing memory?
“There are so many! Off water it would have to be the warm up to my Girls Under 18 National Secondary Schools Quad final. Our race warmup included a lot of dancing and singing at the top of our voices - it was our last race together as a crew and our last race under St Peter's School. We were sad, but excited and ready to race! It's when you can actually feel the bond bringing your crew together. Nothing mattered - just the fun we were having. I'm a massively social person and that feeling is what I crave. That race was our best race of the whole season, and a better performance than anyone expected. Equal to that would be when I first held my New Zealand rowsuit. It was just very surreal. Likewise, in the starting blocks of the World Champs, when they called out "New Zealand" in a list with other countries like ‘Italy, China, England’ etc. ... I was starstruck every time. My favorite on water rowing memory would have to be in my New Zealand North Island U18 Eight race. I've been a small boat sculler most of my career, but I love sweeping, and when a good eight goes... it flies.”


How did you get started rowing?
SJ: “
I started rowing in 2012 at the age of 12. It was just a fun, learn to row program and I was dragged along by one of my best friends. I remember her asking me if I wanted to cox, and I said ‘No! I want to be part of the crew that does the rowing!’. Looking back on it now and with me being as tall as I am, I think it's just symbolic of how much of a rookie both her and I were to the whole system. Good thing I did say no to coxing!”

Why did you choose Duke?
SJ: “
Duke was one of the first schools that I was in contact with when I was looking at US colleges. I feel like I bonded really well with both Coach Graham and Coach Cooke. I met Coach Graham when I was at my 2017 Junior World Championships in Lithuania and felt very comfortable. Both coaches have been very patient, reliable, flexible, understanding and honest towards me and my family. That sort of thing only comes from a special relationship, which I was super lucky to have with them instantly. The university itself is a top-class university that can provide me with an amazing education, and so many fantastic experiences and opportunities. I'm very passionate about studying psychology and Duke is a leading school in this area.”

Quick Facts:
Hanging out with friends and listening to music.
If you could play another sport in college, what would it be?:
Basketball! I played in high school and there’s such an awesome basketball environment at Duke as well … it would be epic.

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