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Olympic Hopefuls Look Forward to Elite Training at Devon Boathouse
OKLAHOMA CITY – More than 30 athletes training with USRowing and USA Canoe/Kayak at the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center will have a new home for their Olympic training endeavors when the Devon Boathouse opens this fall on the Oklahoma River. A christening ceremony for the new boathouse will be held Oct. 7 during the annual Blu party. Mike Knopp, executive director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and head rowing coach for Oklahoma City University, said the $10 million, 33,000-square-foot Devon Boathouse offers high performance training features including a state-of-the-art indoor propulsion rowing tank. The boathouse is home to OCU rowing and canoe/kayak and headquarters for the OKC National High Performance Center. OKC National High Performance Center athletes have followed a variety of training paths. Kaitlyn McElroy took up kayaking just two years ago as a senior in college. Now she trains four to six hours a day, six days a week. McElroy placed third in the senior women’s 500-meter single kayak event this summer at the Lake Placid International Regatta. The competition is one of the country’s largest kayak sprint events, pitting USA kayakers from several states against kayakers from across Canada in both 500 and 1,000-meter sprint events. “If you train smart, things can work out,” she said. McElroy competed in cross-country skiing while attending Baites College in Maine. After an injury, she decided to try kayaking and trained at Georgetown University. McElroy said she is looking forward to training at the Devon Boathouse, which will house an extensive collection of free weights, strength and cardiovascular training equipment and a fleet of boats. “Everything is state of the art,” she said. “We’ll be able to do all our workouts in one place. It’s going to be extremely convenient.” McElroy said she is enjoying the activity on the Oklahoma River. “It’s a cool experience to be part of something that’s building from the ground up,” she said. “This is a great opportunity.” Tom Peszek, one of about 25 rowers training at the OKC National High Performance Center, represented the United States at the 2007 Under 23 World Rowing Championships in Scotland, placing fourth. He also was a member of the University of Michigan rowing team. “To see this new boathouse and all of its amenities and knowing that I’ll get to call it my home is nothing short of an incredible blessing,” Peszek said. Rower Ryan Monaghan competed while studying at Cornell and Cambridge universities. He holds degrees in physics and economics. Monaghan also rowed at the California Rowing Club before moving to Oklahoma City. Michelle Sechser earned a silver medal in the Under 23 Lightweight event at the CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championships in 2008 and a bronze medal at the competition in 2009. Sechser also won the gold at the USRowing Club Nationals in the intermediate and senior lightweight single scull events. Justin Stangel, who has rowed for Syracuse and Oxford universities, said he has been glad to see tremendous support from the local community for training programs on the Oklahoma River. “This support is shown across all levels of rowing from the juniors to masters and now the high performance group,” Stangel said. “I see the Devon Boathouse and the Boathouse District keeping this passionate support alive in the coming years as the community finds more and more uses for the riverfront facilities.” Stangel was a member of the winning Isis crew at Oxford in 2008 and 2009 in the famed Oxford Cambridge race. He also won the 2009 Visitors’ Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta, which is the oldest continually held rowing event in the world. “I see the Devon Boathouse as a great tool that will help to improve rowing in Oklahoma City as well as the United States National Team,” he said. “When construction is complete, it will be one of the best facilities to train at in the world and I am very excited to be a part of the group that will use it.” The boathouse christening will take place during the annual VIP blu party, from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 7.To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.blu2010.com.