Twelve-year-old Elizabeth Fitzhenry, like most American girls her age, did not think of summer camp as preparation to represent their country. She was wrong.
Flashback to the summer of 2005. Fitzhenry had found out that all of her friends were going to crew camp, and she simply could not miss out on the fun.
“I started rowing in seventh grade,” Fitzhenry said. “I did ‘learn to row’ camp with a bunch of my friends, and I decided to keep at it. It was pretty much my first sport.”
The Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native had played soccer and done ballet, but hadn’t found her calling in either of those activities. When she took to the water, however, it was love at first stroke.
What started out as a way to join her friends at summer camp turned into a fervent passion. This weekend, Fitzhenry will captain the Radcliffe heavyweight team’s varsity eight at the Head of the Charles Regatta.
After a 10-year career filled with medals and honors, the senior has nearly done it all.
In 2011, Fitzhenry captured three golds at the Canadian Henley Championship in St. Catherines, Ont.
“It was really an interesting experience,” Fitzhenry said. “It was my first international regatta. It was weird to hear them call your names at the start and they were like, ‘Germany! France! USA!’ and we’re used to, ‘Harvard! Princeton! Yale!’”
Fitzhenry’s intensity and work ethic made a quick impression on her rowing partner, Kristina Wagner, a senior rower at Yale.
“My first impression of Lizzy was probably [that I was] intimidated, but in a good way,” said Wagner. “I knew I wanted to be friends with her, but she also scared me a little.”
Fitzhenry’s affable nature, however, quickly won over Wagner.
“[Fitzhenry] is the best rowing partner ever,” Wagner said. “She’s the peanut butter to my jelly.”
The dynamic duo won the Junior, Under-23, and Championship women’s pair races at Canadian Henley.
Away from the boathouse, Fitzhenry is an avid reader. She took an interest in literature at a young age with the encouragement of her parents.
“My parents always have some book that they are reading, so it was something I saw all the time,” Fitzhenry said.