Cumberland's Regan finds perfect match in rowing

Cumberland's Regan finds perfect match in rowing

Cumberland native and La Salle Academy senior Emily Regan signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her rowing and academic career at George Washington University of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
La Salle Academy graduate awaits next step in career at George Washington University

CUMBERLAND – In the world of rowing, Emily Regan is regarded as one of her sport’s best athletes, not only because Regan captured a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but also because she struck gold four times at the World Rowing Championships.

In the town of Cumberland and on the campus of La Salle Academy, Emily Regan is regarded as an outstanding student-athlete and one of the state’s best high school rowers.

She’s only been rowing for a little more than two years, but in that short amount of time, she’s enjoyed a great deal of success with the Narragansett Boat Club in Providence and caught the attention of a handful of Division I college coaches.

And after paying official visits to four schools on the East Coast last year, Regan decided to continue her rowing career at George Washington University by signing a National Letter of Intent with the Colonials of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

“I was really torn between Boston University and G.W.,” recalled Regan, who also visited Lehigh University and Fordham University. “It was a really hard decision because they’re both city schools and they’re very similar. But once I was at George Washington, I really loved the coaches and the team was great. I really liked the culture at the school and how (Washington, D.C.) was a different city from what I’m used to, so I thought it was a good fit.”

A few years ago, anyone who knew Regan thought that she would be competing for a college in another sport – swimming. Before attending La Salle, Regan, who was also a student at Mercymount Country Day School, swam competitively for the Bluefish Swim Club and the Bryant University-based Bulldog Aquatic Club.

When Regan arrived at La Salle, she joined the Rams’ swim team and competed in the 100-yard backstroke, but after her sophomore season, “I was kind of sick of swimming because I had swam my whole life,” she admitted.

That’s when rowing came into the picture.

“My aunt from New York said that a lot of the girls at my cousin’s school were rowing,” Regan recalled. “I didn’t really know much about rowing, but she said that I should look up clubs nearby and try to get into it.”

Regan then hooked up with the Narragansett Swim Club, and it didn’t take her long to learn about her popular namesake.

“When I first joined my team, one of my coaches was like, ‘Oh, wow, we’re so lucky to have Emily Regan,’” she said with a laugh. “But I started to take some lessons and I ended up really liking it, and then after that, I decided to stop swimming.”

That May, Regan got a taste of competition when she took part in the Amber Zapatka Memorial Regatta on the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass., and almost a year later, she was back in Lowell, teaming up with Classical High senior and Boston University-bound Alexandra Deshaw to take third place in the Women’s Lightweight Double at the U.S. Rowing Northeast Regional Championships.

A month later, Regan and Deshaw took on the country’s best rowers at the U.S. Rowing National Championships in Sarasota, Fla., and they ended up placing seventh in their event.

This year, Regan and Deshaw were looking to improve on last spring’s finishes, but the COVID-19 pandemic pulled the plug on the U.S. Rowing schedule and forced rowers to compete virtually.

“We can’t row together, so we’re both training with each other in singles,” Regan said. “We’re just focusing on technique and staying fit for the fall because we don’t want to get too burned out or anything like that before we start rowing in college.”

The Narragansett Boat Club was finally able to open its doors a few weeks ago after staying close during the early stages of quarantine, but that didn’t stop Regan from putting in good workouts, whether it’s on her rowing machine or Peloton bike at home or with a lifting program that she received from her trainer, Vincent Tanner from Body Soul in Providence.

“But now we’re able to get out in singles while social distancing,” she added. “Just to finally get out on the water and be able to row has been nice.”

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Regan, left, and Alexandra Deshaw, shown in action with the Narragansett Boat Club, took third place in the Women’s Lightweight Double at last year’s U.S. Rowing Northeast Regional Championships in Lowell, Mass. A month later, they placed seventh at the U.S. Rowing National Championships in Sarasota, Fla.