In the second of his OH Athletes in America features, Vishal Saha caught up with former Captain of Boats and Princeton rower, Jens Clausen OH (2016).
Which US University did you decide to go to and why?
I’m at Princeton but I was looking into Harvard and Yale too when doing the applications. I chose Princeton because I loved the atmosphere when I visited and the people there helped me a lot with getting through the somewhat lengthy application process. I felt it was the place where I would be best able to achieve my academic and sporting goals for the next few years. For me, choosing a University is about going where you feel comfortable, especially in the US where you don’t have to commit to a particular course until one or two years into the degree.
What has been the biggest difference about rowing in the USA and how have you found the social side?
The main difference about rowing in the USA is the winter season. At Princeton, our lake freezes over for most of December and January so we are forced indoors for that period. While it might seem daunting and monotonous, it’s a great time to develop pure physiology. This period is usually where the winning universities set themselves out from the rest.
The social side at Princeton is unlike most US universities because “Greek life” is not big at all. (This is something I like a lot about it). While at many other unis your social scene can be massively affected by what organization you are a part of, Princeton prides itself on being very open. It’s a small community (~5000 students) in rural New Jersey so by the time you’ve spent a few months there you start to see that most people you meet know at least one of the people you are close to. While this – depending on the situation – can be either positive or negative, it creates a very open and friendly feel.
While in the US was there a university rowing achievement which you are particularly proud of and why?
I’m particularly proud of my first season at Princeton where I was in the 2V (2nd 8+) where we beat Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia and Navy in our respective 1v1 “dual races” through the spring, and culminated the season winning the Eastern Sprints (east coast university regatta) in May. I was particularly proud of our consistency and ruthlessness under pressure as we were the favourites going into the race. We were commanding right from the start and absorbed everything that was thrown at us.
What plans have you got for your future in the sport?
I actually don’t plan on rowing once I’m done with university. I love the sport and have really enjoyed my time in it but I feel it will be good to move on soon. The great thing about rowing is that it prepares you for any activity you decide to move on to afterwards. For me personally, it has allowed me to taste the world of high-performance sport and it’s been unlike anything I’ve done before for physical and mental development. Rowing, more than most sports, shows you that we might all look different and have different skill-sets, but at the end of the day nothing’s more valuable than hard work. Then it teaches you how to work hard.
Rowing is a large sport at Hampton. Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone following your sporting path?
I would try to urge people to remember the bigger picture. It’s easy to get caught up on the next session, the next erg or the next race which can detract from being able to see what you can do over the coming months as a whole in order to develop into a better athlete. I would encourage anyone to give rowing a try. If you’re doing it right, it’s veryhard but the harder it is, the more you’ll love it.
This piece was the second in HSC’s American University series. The next post will be uploaded next Wednesday.