Shady Side Academy rower wins youth national title

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Sunday, July 25, 2021 | 8:01 AM


As Lauren Jochims crossed the finish line with her teammate, Audrey Lyda, to win the women’s 2x at the US Youth Rowing Nationals, she didn’t know how to react.

“I didn’t celebrate, and I think that was a result of being so shocked,” Jochims said. “I couldn’t comprehend that we were the fastest double in the nation. It was such a crazy thought to me.”

What was once a dream became reality for Jochims, a Richland Township resident and rising senior at Shady Side Academy.

Jochims and Lyda, representing Three Rivers Rowing, topped doubles teams from all over the country to win a national championship at the US Youth Rowing Regatta in Sarasota, Fla., in mid-June. They were fastest in time trials by four seconds and followed that up by winning the final by nearly three seconds.

“It really didn’t register until we got back on land and were hugging our other teammates,” Jochims said. “Everybody was telling us congratulations, and our phones were blowing up with messages from people back home, so the word got out fast. I think that’s when it hit that we had really done it. We won nationals.”

Jochims’ ascent in rowing has been a quick one. She didn’t even know about the sport a few years ago. She was focused on playing for the Shady Side Academy hockey team when a coach approached her about trying rowing.

“My middle school hockey coach asked me to try out solely because I was tall,” Jochims said. “She came up to me one day and told me that she was the coach for the Steel City rowing team and that I should try rowing because it could help me with strength for hockey. I joined shortly after and immediately fell in love with it.”

Jochims still plays hockey, but rowing has become her main focus. She rowed at Steel City for a year before moving to Three Rivers. That’s where she first met Lyda, who is an Ellis School graduate and is attending Miami (Fla.) on a rowing scholarship this fall.

They were a part of the 8x boat to start but were paired up in doubles starting this season. They quickly established themselves as the fastest duo in the local circuits.

Jochims said she leaned on Lyda at nationals because she had participated there in the past.

“She told me that all the girls were going to be fast but to have confidence in ourselves because we were fast, and we knew that we could do it,” Jochims said. “I was expecting just to go down there and get to work right away from time trials to semifinals to the final.”

A few days after nationals, Jochims went to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to attempt to make the U.S. Under-19 National team for the 2021 World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria. She did not make the final cut but gained valuable knowledge she’ll use going forward.

“It was another step up from nationals,” Jochims said. “The fastest girls in the country were at nationals, but this was a select group. Only 60 girls were invited. It was a great experience from the coaching we had and the girls that were there were all trying to make it a boat. It was super competitive, but at the same time, I was meeting so many people from different places. I’m bummed I didn’t make the team, obviously, but I’m going to try again next year.”

Jochims is looking at colleges to attend for rowing. Another goal she has is to make the U.S. Olympic rowing team.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the Olympics,” Jochims said. “Not just with rowing, because I didn’t even know about rowing before my freshman year. I’ve always wanted to participate in the Olympics, and I think rowing is a way that I can do that.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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