Senior Oliver Babb competes in 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships

While many students that attend Westminster were relaxing, going to camp, or enjoying a nice vacation over the summer, senior Oliver Babb was training for crew seven days a week and competing across the Atlantic in Lithuania.

Babb is one of the many incredible athletes at Westminster, although he does not participate on any school team.`

When asked about Westminster potentially having a boys crew  team, Babb said that it would be great, but logistically it may not work. This is because the team would have to travel far, and they would likely not have a boat house. Furthermore, since many people are already preoccupied with sports such as lacrosse and soccer, it may be hard to field a team.

Babb rows at the club Atlanta Junior Rowing Association (AJRA) located in Roswell.

Babb began rowing in his freshman year of high school. His sister, who is now a junior in college, inspired him to attempt rowing after years of competing herself.

“I was on the novice team my freshman year,” said Babb. “I was pretty good at it immediately, and I transitioned from a big tennis player to a rower.”

Rowing is physically demanding and requires training almost daily in order to stay in shape and improve.

“I train six days a week for two and a half hours each day. Then, I practice on my own on Sundays,” said Babb. “These workouts typically consist of a light hour-long row on the rowing machine or if possible on the Chattahoochee on a single by myself. Going out on the river is a lot more fun than sitting stationary on the rowing machine.”

Last summer, Babb was selected to be a member of the U.S. Men’s Junior National team and attended the 2017 World Junior Rowing Championships.

At the beginning of the process, Babb attended a camp in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he worked on his technique and getting stronger. Based off his performance at the camp, Babb was invited to a selection camp located near Chula Vista, California, along with the top 50 high school rowers across the country.

Babb spent four weeks competing in various races in the water as well as the rowing machine, even being analyzed by the nation’s top rowing coaches, before he finally earned a spot on the team.

“I told my parents that I gave myself a 10 percent chance of making the national team,” said Babb. “At worst the camp was an opportunity to be coached by fantastic coaches and learn as much as possible.”

This year’s World Rowing Junior Championships were hosted in Vilnius, Lithuania. Even with the high stakes of the competition, Babb could not help but admire the city’s beauty.

“It had the prettiest race course I’ve ever been on,” said Babb. “We got to row right by a castle, and the water had a 25-foot visibility, so you could see the bottom most of the time.”

As the US team prepared themselves for the competition, disaster struck. Two days before the race, Babb and two of his three teammates came down with food poisoning, causing them to come in last place. Although the result was devastating after all of his hard work, Babb stayed positive.

“To me, it wasn’t about the result, but the process,” said Babb. “We may have come last, but my new friends and I crossed the finish line at the World Junior Rowing Championships, which is infinitely more important than getting first.”

Although Babb did not reach his ultimate goal, many of his peers noticed his hard work and effort in preparing for the championship. Senior Sam Blau, a close friend of Babb’s and former rower at AJRA, testified to Babb’s character.

“If anyone deserved to be a part of this amazing experience it is him,” said Blau. “He pours his heart and soul into everything he does and works harder than any person I know.”

Sophomore Woods Curry, another rower at Westminster who is part of the AJRA program, echoed Blau’s sentiment.

“Everyone looked to him as the goal,” said Curry. “Everyone wanted to become him. He was a role model for all the younger guys. He was the pride and joy of the club.”

Curry and Blau both agreed that Babb trained a lot.

“His training is intense,” said Curry. “As the stroke for the A boat, he has to focus on keeping the rhythm, and he has to make sure always to be the great role model that he is.”

“Oliver trains every day of the week, giving 100 percent effort every day,” said Blau. “He is a year round rower. It’s hard to focus on one thing for twelve months in a row, let alone several years in a row, so his committment shows how much the sport truly means to him.”