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Nature & Outdoors

'Just Like Us': Old Lyme Olympic Rowers Started At Rogers Lake

Rowing - Olympics: Day 1
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Getty Images AsiaPac
Julian Venonsky, Liam Corrigan, John Harrity, Nicholas Mead, Alexander Richards, Austin Hack, Daniel Miklasevich, Justin Best and Benjamin Davison of Team USA compete during the men's eight first heat on Day 1 of the Tokyo Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on July 24, 2021.

Two men, Austin Hack and Liam Corrigan, will represent Old Lyme in the Tokyo Olympic Games men’s eight rowing final Thursday night.

Like Hack and Corrigan, Eveliz Fuentes, 18, got her start in rowing on Rogers Lake. Fuentes, who just graduated from high school, picked up the sport as a freshman.

“This lake — and the boathouse — is viewed as an opportunity because a lot of people aren’t given ... the type of resources that we have here today,” Fuentes said.

You could throw a rock in the lake from the boathouse, which is named after Fred Emerson, the guy who ignited the local rowing craze.

“He meant a lot not just to Old Lyme, but to the whole shoreline community,” said Candace Fuchs, president of the Old Lyme Rowing Association.

In addition to hosting Lyme-Old Lyme High School, the association is home to the Blood Street Sculls. Blood Street, which is on the other side of the lake in Lyme, is where Emerson was based.

“Rogers Lake is one of the finest lakes to row on here in Connecticut, and it’s really just fortunate that it has calm, flat waters and a straight 1,500-meter course, so that’s part of the reason that this grew,” Fuchs said.

And now the legends of Hack and Corrigan inspire a new generation.

“They were here at one point just like us, so for a lot of people, they could see it as that can be them one day,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes works at Old Lyme Country Club, where there’ll be a big watch party for the men’s eight gold medal rowing race.

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