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From Novice Rower to Stalwart of the Nation's Best Crew

Crew's Peter Sharis

By Frederik W. Geiersbach

When Peter Sharis graduates today, he will leave behind a rowing legacy that legends are made of. Sharis spent three years on the Harvard varsity boat, rowed for three Eastern Sprint titles and three national championships, and felt the sting of only three losses in a Crimson boat.

An impressive legacy no matter how you look at it. But it is even more impressive considering that Sharis never rowed before he came to Harvard.

Sharis attended Brooks Prep High School in North Andover, lettered in soccer and baseball and was looking forward to playing soccer for the Crimson when be came to Cambridge.

Four years later, he would be vying for a spot on the U.S. national rowing teams slated to compete in the Goodwill Games and the Olympics. He was enticed to try the crew program by former Brooks student and Harvard oarsman Donald Fawcett '89, who told the high school senior of the excitement of rowing for Harvard. Fawcett sent Sharis a postcard from the Henley Royal Regatta in England and the Boxford native was convinced to give the sport a try.

As soon as Sharis hit the water, his star began to rise. The lanky 6-ft., 4-in. immediately found the sport to his linking. Under the guidance of Harvard freshman Coach Ted Washburn, Sharis picked up the basic technique quickly enough to sit in the five-seat of the first freshman boat that spring--the only novice oarsman in the boat.

Sweet-Smelling

The summer after his freshman year, Sharis tried out for the junior national team and was selected to the gold medal-winning crew at the world championships in Cologne, West Germany.

With the added experience gained from the junior nationals, Harvard Coach Harry Parker put Sharis in the Harvard varsity boat the following spring and Sharis' newfound magic touch continued to rub off, as the Crimson eight went on to win the national championship in Cincinnati.

Sharis' personal highlight that year came in February when the rowing neophyte set a new world record for collegians at the Crash-B Sprints with a scorching 7:37.4 in the 2500-meter competition.

The summer after his sophomore year, he trained with classmate Jon Bernstein under Parker and finished fourth in the qualifying competitions for the Olympic team.

Junior year saw more of the same for Sharis--winning another collegiate Crash-B title, another Sprints title and national championship, and making the trip to Henley where the Crimson was narrowly defeated in the finals for the Ladies Plate.

The summer, Sharis and Bernstein made the U.S. national team and went to Bled, Yugoslavia, where the boat narrowly missed out on a bronze medal by less than a bow ball.

This summer, Sharis plans to row again at Henley with the Crimson eight and try out for the Goodwill Games in a four with Bernstein, senior Keir Pearson and sophomore Peter Morgan. After that, it is back to Cambridge, where Sharis and Bernstein will train for this year's world championships in October in Tasmania.

Dr. of Rowing

Sharis has already decided to defer his admittance to Columbia Medical School by one year and, if all goes right, the Crimson oarsman will defer one more year while he prepares to represent the United States in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, Spain.

After his breathtaking rise to the top of the collegiate rowing world, the only question left is, what in the world lies next?

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