RR Friday Interview: U.S. Lightweight Sculler, Nick Trojan, Part II

Since we posted the first half of our interview with young standout Nick Trojan, the lineups for the second National Selection Regatta and the Non-Qualified Olympic Small Boats Trials have been announced, and it has been confirmed that Trojan will be taking on a very tough field along with new double partner Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg. Here follows the second half of our interview with Trojan, post NSR I, with details about his preparation and working with coach Carlos Dinares.

RR: There were a number of lightweights that showed up at NSR I, many of them training in the LA area. Do you run into these guys all the time? Have you been training with them? 

NT: It’s funny. Before NSR I , I’d been down in Newport rowing the single. I would just do one, solid row in the morning, just as I would have done at Carlos’s house–I was pretty much doing Carlos’s training, but I couldn’t do as much as I was doing up there because of traffic, working, etc. But I did run into Pete, Tom and John [Graves] quite a bit. I tried to stay out of their way, because they have their own thing going, and I didn’t want to interfere with that, but it’s enjoyable to see them because they are fun guys to hang out with. I’m training mostly in Newport at this point.

RR: There were some big names on the NSR I list–how did it feel on the start line next to some of the most famous rowers in the U.S.? What were your expectations? 

NT: I had plenty of mixed feelings. When I first got there I thought, ‘This is going to be good.’ As a result of that erg piece, I thought I could do well, hang with the lightweight pack, and I’m still banking on Carlos’s training in the fall–I had done so much volume in the fall that I was really ready to go anytime in the spring. I didn’t really realize it at the time. My goal was to be as fast as the other lightweights. I just took it one race at a time, and really blow it out each time–I had nothing to lose, so I could just shoot for the moon, and ‘whatever happens happens.’

RR: What was your feeling going into the A/B Semi? 

NT: I was just thinking, ‘try to beat the guys that I know are near or at my speed.’ After the heat, I kind of realized where I was relative to everyone else. Of course, Brian de Regt was in my heat, and I knew he was fast, because he has done so much in the lightweight world, and been to worlds so many times, and has so much experience. I thought, ‘if I can just stick next to him, I’ll be okay.’ Peter [Graves] was in there as well, and he was just killing it the whole regatta. Warren Anderson was going to be the fastest one out there. It was kind of like going down a mental ‘who can I beat’ checklist, saying ‘maybe, probably not, no, no, no.’ My ultimate plan was just to stay with Brian de Regt–maybe I could, or maybe I couldn’t, but if I could stick with him and manage to be in the top three then I knew I would be in a great place. I went into it with as much confidence as I could.

RR: Did you feel that you could let loose in the A Final? You had already accomplished a great deal just to be there–was it freeing?

NT: It was freeing, but I knew I still had to stay focused on doing well–I knew I couldn’t just throw this one away. I was way more excited to go all out for that race, because I knew that, no matter what, I was going to be somewhere with the guys–I knew that I wasn’t going to be last place by 10 seconds, and that I could be with the pack. Throughout the regatta, I was calling Carlos, and getting words of wisdom from him. He’s my current coach, even if I am not training at his house, I still use him as a major resource. He was hugely helpful through the whole thing, and really called everything as it was.

RR: Did he help you put together a race plan together? 

NT: You could say it was a race plan. It was basically like, ‘here’s where you are; here’s where the field is speed-wise; here’s who you should try to beat; here’s who you should try to keep up with,’ as well as letting me know that, for example, ‘at this point in the race, you should be this much faster than this person, or this much slower than another person.’ It was great getting his input, because he told me that he knew exactly how fast I was, and it was nice having someone there who knew exactly what I had been doing, telling how well I could do, or how bad it could go. He gets a lot of criticism, but until you’ve met the real Carlos, and given him a chance to impart his wisdom, you can’t fully appreciate his skill. I hope that people eventually listen to him, because he is right about a lot of things. I know he has his ticks, and can be very harsh, but that is just his passion of the sport speaking. It’s not a desire to be mean, or that he doesn’t want people to like him, he just has a huge passion for the sport, so he is going to express his opinion as honestly and openly as possible. It’s definitely good having him keeping me in check, and telling me what I need to do to go a certain speed.

RR: The word on the street is that you may be putting a lightweight double together with Dan Urevick-Acklesberg. Is that true? 

NT: We are actually in the process of figuring that out–it’s not a secret, but we have no idea. We’ve been rowing the double for a week, and it’s been feeling very good. We’re not setting expectations, but we are competitors, so we are not going to go out there to lose.

Thanks very much to Nick for taking the time! NSR II and Non-Qualified Olympics Small Boats Trials begin on Monday, 9 April in West Windsor, New Jersey Chula Vista, California. For more information, please see the official website of USRowing


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