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New Canaan's Campbell Sisters Keep Family In Rowing Fast Lane

Sisters Claire, left, and Mary Campbell of New Canaan will compete for New Canaan Crew in this weekend's USRowing Youth National Championships in Tennessee.
Sisters Claire, left, and Mary Campbell of New Canaan will compete for New Canaan Crew in this weekend's USRowing Youth National Championships in Tennessee. Photo Credit: Contributed by Laura Campbell

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan sisters Mary and Claire Campbell will live up to the legacy of their older brothers' rowing success when they make their first visit to the USRowing Youth National Championships this weekend.

Andrew Campbell, now a junior at Harvard, and Charlie, a sophomore at Wisconsin, were standouts for the New Canaan Crew a few years ago. Mary, a high school junior, and Claire, an eighth-grader, learned from both of them. They will be in the New Canaan quad for the national regatta. They teamed with Cara Hoelzl and Bea Tobey to win the regional regatta last month.

“They taught me so much,’’ Mary said of her older brothers. “I learned from example just from watching them. I learned how to go about achieving your goal. Seeing them and how they approached things taught me how to act and how to work out.”

Mary qualified for two events for nationals. She finished third at regionals in the women’s single. She will skep the single at nationals to concentrate on the quad in her first trip to nationals.

“It’s better to do one thing well than two things mediocre,’’ she said. “It was the best option for the club.”

Claire started rowing competitively in seventh grade. She will be one of the youngest athletes at nationals with a good opportunity to win a national medal.

“I learned from my brothers that you have to have really good cardio, that you have to listen to your coaches and don’t cut your workouts short,’’ she said. “They also told me that I have to do things other than crew. I didn’t really listen to that part.”

One of the primary lessons the girls learned from their older brothers was how to handle adversity, Mary said.

“Things are not always going to go your way,’’ she said. “You have to come back, and you have to come back 10 times stronger. There are going to practices and races and workouts where you just feel awful about them. You have to come back ready to fight again.”

The regional weekend posed a rowing challenge for the family. The sisters and Andrew competed in regattas in Worcester, Mass., while Charlie checked in via text message.

“It’s really nice to know that we have their support,’’ Mary said. “Thanks to technology we can be in constant communication.”

New Canaan won the regional in a tight race, hitting the finish line ahead of Essex by 0.87 seconds. New Canaan finished third in its qualifying heat. The final capped a long weekend for Mary, who competed in six races over two days.

“I took a nice long nap on the way home,’’ she said. The Campbell sisters head to Oak Ridge, Tenn., for this weekend’s regatta and hope to earn a national medal, just like their brothers.

“It’s exciting to have this opportunity,’’ Claire said. “I don’t think I believed I’d get to nationals as an eighth-grader. But I’m happy to get the chance to because I really like rowing, and work really hard at it.”

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