NORWALK, Conn. -- Dan Walsh climbed every level on the rowing ladder, from newbie on the water to medal-winning Olympian. The lure of a long-time friend and former teammate will help the Norwalk native write another chapter on the same river upon which he started.
Walsh, 37, joined Maritime Rowing Club as the club’s Director of High Performance and Development. He will reunite with his former coach, Yan Vengerovskiy, the club’s founder and head coach, and his son, Roman, Maritime’s business manager. Walsh and Roman rowed together as teenagers in Norwalk and later on as teammates at Northeastern University. Their decades-old friendship takes on a new dynamic as they become teammates again at MRC.
“When I stepped on the boat launch, I felt like home again,’’ Walsh said. “Everybody knows what home feels like. It was really that simple.”
“When I stepped on the boat launch, I felt like home again. Everybody knows what home feels like. It was really that simple. -- Dan Walsh”
Walsh served as an assistant coach at Northeastern University for three years, but he also brings experience as world-class rower to Maritime. Walsh won a bronze medal with the United States Men’s 8+ in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He was a member of the U.S. national team for 11 years.
“He’ll help show young rowers here how to become high performance athletes,’’ Roman said. “It’s good positive reinforcement to see and follow his path and methodology to become successful in rowing. It’s an excellent opportunity for young rowers to get training from a high-performance athlete like Dan.”
Walsh’s path back to the Norwalk River began last year. His mother, Dana, died in January. He also worked with a group in Boston that sought to bring the Olympics to that city in 2024. The city withdrew its bid in late July. Walsh and his wife, Keri, welcomed a baby girl, Stella, in early September. All three components helped Walsh consider coming back home.
During a road trip to Maryland to visit a former Northeastern rowing teammate, Roman Vengerovskiy and Walsh casually discussed the idea of the Olympian coming to Maritime to coach. It became a done deal earlier this summer.
“Keri and I were starting to feel like an island unto ourselves in the Boston area,’’ Walsh said. “My sister, Sue (a Norwalk resident), has three kids, and my brother lives in Litchfield with his two kids. It was tough to come time to visit. Keri's from New Jersey. The mantra we used was we’d rather fail among friends and family than succeed in Boston by ourselves. If things don’t work out, there are way too many people to pick us up.”
“On the way back from Maryland we started talking about the future and the past 20 or so years together,’’ Roman said. “It just kind of picked up. It’s like it was always meant to be.”
With Walsh on board, Maritime now has one of the most highly-regarded coaching teams in the country. Olga, Yan’s wife, is a former Russian national champion and coaches the boys freshman and novice teams. Yan coached two crews to a gold and silver medal at June’s USRowing Youth National Championships, and guided the early stages in the careers of two members of this year’s Olympic team, Charlie Cole and Andrew Campbell. The club’s master programs, with Anna Cherednikova and Yuliya Chagina, are always among the best teams in the nation.
Walsh also brings expertise in new training methodologies -- he founded “Engine Room Fitness” in San Diego while he was competing with the national team -- and college recruiting to Maritime. He’s also developed relationships with athletes around the globe with whom he can network for new concepts and ideas.
The winners will be up-and-coming young rowers in Fairfield County, who will benefit from the knowledge of Walsh, the Vengerovskiys and the entire MRC staff. Twenty years after it was founded, MRC’s future appears solidly set with two men, longtime teammates and friends, and backed by owners who have dedicated their lives to the sport.
“My primary goal is to give back to the man who was my inspiration,’’ Walsh said. “The opportunity to work with him is really inspiring. It’s great to have a chance to give back to the community and the river, to help young rowers have their dreams become reality.”
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