Olympic hopefuls from California make pit stop at Great Salt Lake for training

Published: Monday, June 4 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Derek Johnson, center, and Andrew Melander of the California Rowing Club prepare to train at the Great Salt Lake, Monday, June 4, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

GREAT SALT LAKE STATE MARINA — Nine athletes with the California Rowing Club made a pit stop at the Great Salt Lake Monday morning to get in a little training before heading to New Jersey for the Olympic trials and a chance to take part in the Summer Games in London.

It also was a chance for local rowers of Salt Lake's Waterford Crew to get a look at what it takes to compete at the elite level.

"It gives me some inspiration as to what my rowers are going to be doing in the not-so-distant future," said Andrew Henrickson, head rowing coach of the Waterford Crew.

After months and countless hours of training, Mike Sivigny of the California club is making the cross-country drive to compete for a spot on the U.S. Rowing Team. At 39 years old, it may be his last chance to fulfill that Olympic dream.

Monday, he glided across the morning tranquility of the Great Salt Lake. He didn’t want to miss a training day so close to the trials.

“What I love most about rowing is being able to row on water like this where it’s glassy calm, and you just put the blades in the water, it's quiet, and you feel the run of the boat and you listen for the water on the hull, and it's a surreal experience when you get some good run going," he said.

He’s been rowing since 1994. He was eliminated from the doubles team and will get his last chance to make the Olympic team competing in the singles trial in New Jersey beginning June 12.

An independent business owner, Sivigny is supporting himself on his way to that Olympic dream. “It’s one of those things, what you put in is what you get out, and right now I’m putting a lot in and I hope to get a lot out,” he said.

Over the past few months, he’s been sleeping on air mattresses and couch-surfing at friends' homes. He said it’s all worth it if it means he can try to represent the United States. But that will be a challenge as he'll have to defeat a field of athletes who have already posted faster times.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I’ll try to make something happen next week,” he said.

For Michael Spackman, president of Great Salt Lake Rowing, seeing the Olympic hopefuls train was exciting. "I'm not anywhere near this class of rowers," he said. "It's just exciting to see what they're capable of doing."

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