Czajkowski is the only one attending the Junior Selection Camp this summer. Photo by Cedric Vitug

 

Jose Orozco
STAFF WRITER
@Jorozcocrusader

 

For about two years, junior Azja Czajkowski practices rowing competitively. Last summer, Czajkowski went to the Junior High Performance Camp in Connecticut and will return this upcoming summer for the Junior Selection Camp, starting on June 14. Czajkowski will be competing to qualify for the Junior National Rowing Team that will participate at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Lithuania.

“Azja is a great asset to our team. She is a leader and mentor to the younger athletes. She has self confidence and trusts her teammates,” rowing coach Carmen Slack said, “I’m really proud of Azja and her commitment to rowing. I’m happy she will have this opportunity. I believe it will be a wonderful experience for her.”

Czajkowski was chosen to go to Selection Camp after she rowed a two kilometres test in 7:10 minutes at an ergometre machine, which simulates how fast an individual would row. She had a relatively fast pace compared to the 7:50 pace necessary to qualify. Thirty rowers and six coxswains will compete for 20 spots on eight and quad boats.

“Preferably I rather do the eight and four because those are the sweeper boats, but I am not entirely opposed to do the quad, which is a sculling boat,” Czajkowski said.

According to Czajkowski, Selection Camp is much more competitive than the other camps, especially in comparison to the High Performance Camp. She was the only one from her club team that will attend the Selection Camp. Other teammates will also be in Connecticut to participate in different rowing events including the High Performance Camp and Development camp.

“I know I am going to spend a lot of time being sore, that is a given. I am going to have two-a-day practices. I am going to have to watch what I eat, and how I spend my time and be responsible about when I go to sleep,” Czajkowski said, “I am just going to have to look at all the decisions that I make on a day to day basis that affect on how well my body performs.”

Czajkowski mentioned that she practices about 18 hours per week, distributed between six days, and sometimes works out on Sundays. Sometimes, she even attends two practices in one day. She added that she is one of the youngest girls within the varsity boat.

“We are in the same four so we practice everyday or sometimes twice a day together,” teammate Amira Parker said. “She is the fastest girl on our team, but also very humble and sweet.”

According to Czajkowski, balancing school work with her rowing practices is difficult. However, she still believes that it was a worthwhile decision to enter the rowing community. She expects to continue to practice collegiate rowing representing a university. However, unless there any prospects of making the Olympics, Czajkowski does not see rowing as a career.

“Azja is a wonderful young lady to coach. She brings a lot of  ‘fun’ to the team. She brings ‘joy’ to my coaching. Youth rowing is so much more than just rowing. It’s about teamwork, time management, self confidence, leadership, having fun, getting along with others, learning about mental toughness and physical fitness, commitment, trust and believing in yourself,” Slack said.