Many success stories have begun with youngsters first hopping into a boat and hitting the water with the Sammamish Rowing Association.
Redmond’s Sam Halbert arrived at the boathouse on West Lake Sammamish Parkway Northeast as a seventh-grader, and fast forward to now, the 21-year-old University of Washington junior-to-be has rowed himself into the record books.
As part of the USA men’s 8+ boat, he helped the squad notch not only a gold medal, but a world record at the 2018 World Rowing Under-23 Championships on July 29 in Poznan, Poland. Their top time of 5:22.48 set an under-23 record.
Great Britain and Romania both finished in 5:24.930 and Great Britain was awarded the silver medal.
The USA squad featured five other UW athletes: coxswain Rielly Milne and rowers Chris Carlson, Andrew Gaard, Arne Landboe and Madison Molitor. Washington men’s head coach Michael Callahan led the USA crew, which also sported members from Stanford, Cornell and Drexel.
“We knew we had a strong team from the beginning,” said Halbert, 21, whose squad started its journey with a fourth-place finish against senior squads at the 2018 World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland on July 14. “That was a big confidence-booster. We knew had what it took.”
During the final in Poland, the boats had to deal with severe tail winds and Halbert said the goal was to start out fast and move into a winning position during last 500 meters of the 2,000-meter race.
“We knew we had to gun it,” he said, noting that at the 1,500-meter mark, Milne told the guys that they were on a world-record pace.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Halbert of his team reaching the mountaintop. “My roommate a year back set the world record with the Netherlands. I got it back from him.”
Halbert, who rows and majors in communications at UW and graduated from Woodinville High in 2016, said he’d like to set some more records in the years to come.