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Huntington rower turns practice into shot at world junior title

Huntington High School graduate Miranda Nykolyn practices in

Huntington High School graduate Miranda Nykolyn practices in Northport on May 28, 2017. Photo Credit: Long Island Rowing Club

Huntington High School graduate Miranda Nykolyn, 17, will join the U.S. team to compete in the World Rowing Junior Championships this month in Lithuania.

“It feels so amazing,” Nykolyn said. “I love my country and I’m so excited and humbled to represent it.”

Nykolyn graduated this spring and won a partial athletic scholarship to attend Stanford University and join the school’s rowing team in the fall.

Her coach, Anika Selle, attributed Nykolyn’s success not just to her talents but to the relationship among high school rowers, the Long Island Rowing Club and Northport Village, which has allowed the club to launch their boats from Scudder Beach Park.

Without being able to train in Northport Harbor, Nykolyn would never have had enough training time to qualify for the championships, Selle said.

Before gaining access to Northport Harbor the group had to launch exclusively from Fleets Cove Beach in Centerport. They still use that location sometimes, but conditions on the water are rougher.

“At Fleets Cove Beach it’s always windy,” Selle said. “It’s really hard. It’s not protected at all. Northport Harbor is protected.”

Since the change, Nykolyn has been able to spend more time on the water, which is essential to becoming more competitive, Selle said. Nykolyn trained five days a week for nine weeks, only missing one day because of bad weather, Selle said.

Since April, Nykolyn has started her days on the water at 5 a.m., training with the help of Selle and support from a handful of teammates.

Compared to a season at Fleets Cove when the club only managed to get on the water a total of eight days, access to Scudder Beach — about half a mile south of Cow Harbor Park in Northport — has given the whole rowing club more opportunity to be on the water and train regularly, said club president Brian Giehl.

The Long Island Rowing Club, established in 2001 as the Half Hollow Hills Crew Club, has about 50 adult and youth members who train and compete together in the “club” category at regattas. Members also coach the Huntington High School crew team.

The club’s use of Scudder Beach has been extended, Giehl said, with a renewable three-year contract that Northport officials recently approved to allow the club to continue storing and launching their boats.

“It’s great when people see the benefit of athletics and team sports,” Giehl said.

Others in the community have also been supportive of Nykolyn’s journey. When the club was temporarily displaced from Scudder Beach for some village construction work, David Weber, owner of Seymour’s Boatyard, allowed the rowers to launch from his dock near the end of Main Street.

“I think it’s great,” Weber said of Nykolyn’s upcoming international competition. “She’s been rowing out here a couple years.”

All of Nykolyn’s effort will be put to the test during the competition, which runs Aug. 2-6 in Trakai, Lithuania.

“There’s always some nerves,” she said before heading to Lithuania on July 26. “Racing is so important and you don’t want to mess up. But it’s also very exciting.”

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