Dover native Taylor rowing for Pan-American glory

Dover’s Sydney Taylor, right, will compete at the Pan-American Games Qualification Regatta in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 in Lightweight Women’s Double Skulls with her partner Keara Twist, left. (Submitted photos/Michael Collins)

DOVER — When Sydney Taylor was 12 years old she watched her brother compete in the Henley Royal Regatta in England and has been in love with rowing ever since.

“I’m the youngest of the Tooze family children. So as soon as I experienced that event I knew I wanted to compete there too,” Ms. Taylor said.

“I started rowing as a freshman at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown and after high school, rowed for the Williams College crew team in Massachusetts. After graduating from college, I transitioned from sweep rowing to sculling and haven’t looked back.”

Now Ms. Taylor’s life has come full circle as her family and friends will get a chance to watch her compete at the Pan-American Games Qualification Regatta in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

The Dover native, who now resides in Seattle, Washington, was able to able to qualify after winning the Lightweight Women’s Double Skulls with her partner Keara Twist at the Pan American Games Trials this past summer.

“We were so excited to win our race at trials in August,” Ms. Taylor said. “We teamed up in the double shortly before trials, and pushed ourselves to the max, and we’re even more excited to see what kind of speed we can show at our next race in Brazil.

“For both of us, this year was our first time winning an event at the U.S. Rowing Trials. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to race as part of Team USA.”

If the duo qualifies in the top eight in Brazil they will get a chance to represent the U.S. at the 2019 Pan American Games this summer in Lima, Peru.

“When we won it was simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking,” Ms. Taylor said. “I initially had a hard time wrapping my head around making the team, because I had tried many times in the past without winning a trials race. Now, I can’t wait to race with my teammate on the international stage.”

She said they eventually became partners due to how much they both loved rowing.

“I met Keara through her husband, Alex Twist, who was one of my first friends in Seattle,” Ms. Taylor said. “My husband, Alex, and I met Alex Twist at the 2016 Olympic Trials in Sarasota, Florida, shortly before we moved to Seattle.

“When I first got to Seattle, I met up with Alex, Keara and other rowers for weekly scrimmages. I joined their team the following spring, and we’ve been practicing and racing together for over a year and a half.”

If the duo of Ms. Taylor and Ms. Twist qualify in the top eight in Brazil, they will get a chance to represent the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games this summer in Lima, Peru.

Ms. Taylor, who works for Oiselle, a Seattle running company, said their constant support of each other is what pushes them to be better each and every day.

“Keara and I learned to support one another as teammates working on our individual boats. We’re excited by the new challenge of combining our lineup,” Ms. Taylor said. “In the double, we have to completely match our timing in order to get the most speed out of our boat.

“We also have to communicate while we row, as Keara gives directions while she looks at our course, and I call out technical reminders to make sure we’re focused on the same thing.”

The duo practices two times a day throughout the week and once or twice on the weekends to keep them mentally and physically prepared for their upcoming race.

“For the Pan American Games Qualification Regatta, American athletes are asked to cover all expenses for their travel and participation, so we have been actively fundraising for a little over two months,” Ms. Taylor said.

“We have been racing longer distances all fall and have won several local events together. Now we have a few weeks without racing, to focus on the upcoming trip and four days in a row of sprint racing. We’re taking care of the behind-the-scenes logistics, like travel vaccines, to make sure we stay healthy during our trip.”

Ms. Taylor said she wouldn’t be where she is now without her family.

Sydney Taylor and Keara Twist, now living in Seattle, practice two times a day throughout the week and once or twice on the weekends to keep them mentally and physically prepared for their upcoming race.

“My family has supported my passion for rowing since day one, and their continued support has allowed me to stay in the sport and continue pushing my limits in training and racing,” Ms. Taylor said.

But representing the United States coming from Delaware is a feat that she continues to be proud of, hoping it inspires her fellow rowers back home.

“It is thrilling to represent our country at the Pan American Games Qualification Regatta, and to share the racing experience with our coach, who has worked with us daily for nearly two years,” she said.

“I’m excited about the idea of reconnecting with my high school rowing team when I visit later this year. Learning about growth during my first year of collegiate rowing has shaped my attitude and approach to challenging situations in other areas of my life as well. I would be honored to share some of my rowing experience with others back home.”

The duo has fundraising page at www.GoFundMe.com/help-us-get-to-rio.

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