Collegiate Women’s Rowing

From sailing to rowing: Abigail Chamberlin ready to play key role for Dartmouth rowing

Posted:  Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 1:00pm
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HANOVER, N.H. — Abigail Chamberlin has taken a unique journey into being a collegiate rower — a journey that almost never happened. 

The Camden Hills Regional High School alumna and Camden native, who takes pride in surrounding herself with people who wish for her continued success, almost never became a freshman rower at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution in Hanover, New Hampshire, that Chamberlin describes as “the absolute perfect place.” 

Chamberlin nearly missed out on joining the Dartmouth female rowers that she describes as “clearly very motivated, dedicated, and focused” and “really funny, extremely welcoming, and genuinely so nice.”

From Sailing to Rowing

Chamberlin first decided to start rowing after reading The Boys in the Boat. Despite being inexperienced during her first regatta, it was enough to make her fall in love with the sport.

“I've always loved being on the water, whether it's in a sailboat, on a paddle board, or in the Boston Whalers I sit in all summer while teaching sailing,” Chamberlin said. “So to me, rowing made sense.

“The perseverance and grit of the rowers I had read about drew me in, and I wanted to see if I had what it took. I have always liked to challenge myself, whether it's in the classroom or on a sports team, and rowing, with its often grueling workouts is an extremely physically demanding sport that not only challenged my physical strength and endurance but also challenged me mentally, as so much of getting through a workout or a race is about mentality.

“Being able to endure what we call ‘the pain cave’ is key and definitely not an easy feat. Despite how I am eternally sore and tired though, the sport is incredibly rewarding. When you finally find your swing in a boat and everyone is moving together, it's absolutely magical. You can feel the boat really start to fly and cut through the water. It's absolutely [exhilarating] and makes you never want to stop. It also creates the closest bonds between people when you can share that magical swing and feeling.”

This winter, Chamberlin has been all-hands-on-deck with training.

“We’re doing a lot of erging and strength training,” she noted, while adding she hopes to drop her 6K and 2K times and enter the spring “really strong and ready to fight for a spot in one of our top boats.”

Despite her determination to be a top Darmouth rower this spring, Chamberlin’s collegiate rowing career almost did not happen. 

Chamberlin noted she had barely even thought about collegiate rowing and had spent most of high school dreaming about being on a collegiate sailing team, since she had sailed every spring since seventh grade. 

In addition to spring sailing for Megunticook Rowing, Chamberlin was a well-rounded student-athlete and spent time on Windjammer soccer, alpine ski and nordic ski teams.

In fact, Chamberlin was part of an undefeated soccer season and alpine ski state championship team in Rockport and also had the unique opportunity to compete in the highly-regarded Head of the Charles Regatta during her senior year. 

Come senior year, she opted to row in both the fall and spring seasons and received a push towards collegiate rowing from her high school coach, Amy Wilton, and a guest assistant coach who happened to be a member of the Dartmouth lightweight rowing team. 

Now that she is a collegiate athlete, what advice does she have for others who are contemplating playing sports at the next level? 

“Playing a sport on the collegiate level is rewarding in many ways, but it can also be pretty draining so I think it's important to have other outlets,” she said. 

For instance, Chamberlin noted the Dartmouth campus is not only fun to explore, but is surrounded by trails, hiking grounds, a river with a rope swing and a winter skating pond. 

Chamberlin noted its important to maintain a balance between sports-related activities and activities not related to your sport and to not select a school solely based on athletic endeavors. 

“There are so many other aspects to [college] as well that you want to be able to enjoy,” she said. 

The Future

Chamberlin has yet to decide on a major, but noted playing collegiate athletics has  improved her time management skills as she navigates a wide variety of subjects to find a major that suits her. 

“My overall goal in the classroom... is to come out of it with a major I'm really interested in so that I can find a job that is really exciting to me and makes me really happy to do,” she stated. 

Although her exact career path is unclear, Chamberlin noted she hopes traveling — and adventure — is in her future.

While in the Midcoast, Chamberlin enjoys sailing in Penobscot Bay and exploring islands. After spending this past summer hiking part of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, she hopes she will one day be able to experience adventures on every continent. 


Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: sports@penbaypilot.com