DURHAM, N.C. – Duke rowing head coach Robyn Horner announced the signing of nine student-athletes to the class of 2018. The incoming freshman class includes: Megan Bowen (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Tara Christensen (Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada), Emma Durham (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Jessica Findlay (Teesside, United Kingdom), Sarah Fletcher (London, United Kingdom), Meagan Lew (Boston, Mass.), Katherine Maitland (London, United Kingdom), Anna Petterson (Westport, Conn.) and Grace Williams (Vienna, Va.).
“This is a very diverse class from Canada, England and the U.S.,” Horner said. “They are all excellent students and very motivated athletes with a high degree of skill in our sport. We expect them to make a significant contribution to our program starting immediately this fall. We look forward to having each of them join us shortly and want to welcome them into our Blue Devil family.”
Megan Bowen rows for Marina Aquatic Center (MAC) and attended Chadwick High School in Manhattan Beach, Calif. She began rowing after a few competitive years playing soccer and realizing that her small size slightly hindered her ability. A friend suggested she try out for rowing, and with her contagious positive energy and personality, Bowen found her role at MAC as a coxswain.
Bowen’s highlights in her rowing career include finishing second in the youth 4+ at the Head of the Charles and coming in second in the lightweight 4+ at Southwest Regional Championships. Bowen spent her previous fall semester living and studying in New York City.
When asked why she chose Duke, Bowen’s response was simple. “There wasn’t much debate...Duke is the perfect place to be a student-athlete. Go Blue Devils!”
Tara Christensen joins the Blue Devil Family all the way from the west coast of Canada. Christensen, who rows for and attended high school at Brentwood College in British Columbia, spent years as a competitive swimmer until her mother signed her up for a kayaking camp. There was a rowing camp on the same lake that summer, and Christensen decided it was something that she really wanted to try. She instantly became hooked and started rowing competitively that next fall. She loved how much of a team sport rowing is compared to her competitive swimming days.
Christensen’s highlights in her rowing career include finishing first at the Canadian Secondary School Regatta Championships in the women’s 8+ and being elected as the girls Boathouse Rowing Captain for her senior year. One fun fact about Christensen is that she was born on Valentine’s Day.
When asked why she chose Duke, Christen said, “I felt comfortable with the team right away and loved the close-knit, family atmosphere. I also adored Duke’s campus and sunny North Carolina!”
Emma Durham also joins Duke rowing from Canada. She attended Dawson College and was a member of their rowing team and also currently rows for Club Development Excellence in Montreal, Quebec. She was inspired to row by her sister, who encouraged her to take up the sport.
Durham’s highlights of her rowing career include finishing third in both the women’s 1x and 8+ at the Canadian Summer Games along with a first-place finish at the Canadian Secondary School Regatta Championships in the single. One fun fact about Durham is that she is a big fan of rap music.
Durham decided to come to Duke because she also loved how tightly knit the team was and how everyone had such amazing team spirit at all times.
Jessica Findlay rows for Tees Rowing Club in the United Kingdom. She also comes from a competitive swimming background. Jess decided to get involved with rowing when she and her mother were walking over a bridge in Durham, United Kingdom, and saw a men’s varsity 4+ rowing nearby. Findlay and her mother watched the boat travel down the river, and not long after, Findlay was rowing in a single as member of the Great Britain World Class Start Program.
Findlay’s highlights of her rowing career include qualifying for the Great Britain World Class Start Program and finishing second at the National Schools Regatta in the women’s 4+. Being an international student, she will have fun telling all her new American friends that she shares the same birthday as Prince Harry.
Sarah Fletcher also will be joining the program as another international student-athlete. Fletcher comes from St. Edward’s School Boat Club in London, England. Her involvement with rowing began when she watched her brother compete at weekend regattas.
Fletcher’s highlights of her rowing career include finishing first at the Hammersmith Head regatta in the women’s 8+ and finishing in the semifinal at the National Schools Regatta. Despite her heavy English accent, Fletcher is actually American.
When asked why she wanted to come to Duke, she said, “I fell in love with Duke’s pride for athletics.”
Meagan Lew rows for Community Rowing Inc and attended Boston Latin School in Boston, Mass. She has been involved with rowing since eighth grade when her friend’s sister encouraged her to try out. Lew picked up on the sport quickly, found her role as a coxswain on the team and has been a tremendous leader for CRI’s program ever since.
Lew’s career highlights include finishing seventh in the women’s lightweight 8+ at Youth Nationals and third in the women’s 4+ at the Royal Canadian Henley. Something that you may not know about Lew is that she is a really bad liar and can never keep a straight face, especially when it comes to playing poker.
“I chose Duke because of its great balance of academics and athletics,” she said. “When I visited, everyone seemed excited to be there and I can’t wait to be part of that.”
Katherine Maitland is a member of Eton Excelsior Rowing Club in London, England. She liked the idea of rowing from a young age and her mom signed her up for a beginner’s course. Maitland said she was a bit afraid to do the course on her own, so she took a friend with her who hated every last second of it. Matiland, however, became hooked.
Maitland’s career highlights include finishing second in the women’s single at National Schools Regatta and making it to the final trials for the Junior World’s Great Britain squad. Matiland secretly dreams to be in a Broadway musical one day…preferably Wicked.
“Duke’s campus is beautiful, slightly warmer climate, academic excellence and not to mention the girls on the team are so welcoming!” she said.
Anna Petterson rows for Saugatuck and attended Staples High School in Connecticut. Her brother was the first in her family to row, which led to Petterson attending his regattas as a spectator. She was drawn to what she perceived as the sport’s elegance, only later to learn through her first set of blisters and calluses covering her raw hands that the sport was anything but. Despite the minor novice injuries, however, she was hooked.
Petterson’s career highlights include being undefeated in the women’s 8+ in 2013-14 until the grand final at Youth Nationals where her boat placed fourth overall. She is a competitive horseback rider and has been riding since she was seven.
When asked why she chose Duke, Petterson said, “It just seemed right for me. I’ve been fortunate to have been on a team of girls who I consider my sisters, even when the intensity is high, for my whole rowing career. So, after meeting the team, I knew I wouldn’t want to spend my next four years anywhere else. Along with such a nurturing environment, I knew I wanted to be on a competitive team that would be vying for top spots, just as Duke has been. Though the rowing impacted my decision quite a bit, I wanted to get the best education possible which I knew I’d receive as a Blue Devil!”
Grace Williams comes to Duke from James Maddison High School and theTBC Rowing Club in Virginia. Her older sister influenced her to try out for rowing, and her mother was also a successful rower in college.
Williams’ career highlights include stroking the varsity 8+ to an undefeated season in 2013 and training in Germany with the US Rowing World’s Development Team in 2012. Williams is the youngest of four siblings, and her sister and one brother are also Division I student-athletes.
“Duke is the perfect balance academically and athletically,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be part of Duke’s rowing program because the girls and coaches were really great!”