Updated: Apr 16, 2021
My name is Rachael Gniewkowski and I have been rowing since I was 12 years old. I learned about rowing at a youth sports day for the visually impaired and decided to give it a try. When I started rowing my first year I had a goal to participate in HOTO, I didn't expect to win but my goal was to finish. Not only did I finish HOTO that year I finished with a gold medal! The even cooler part was that I was the youngest person competing in the race that year and David Curry, who was my partner, was the oldest. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette even ran an article about it. (Click here to read the PG story) Over the years I have participated and medaled at many other regattas- always placing first or second. When I began rowing I started in doubles, over the years I have learned how to row in singles and even fours and eights. Two summers ago, I was asked to row on the PNC Summer Rowing League team. It was a really cool experience and a lot of fun! Since I know how to row singles, doubles, fours, and eights my goal is to eventually try a pair. I want to try pair rowing so that I can say "I can row every type of boat." Hopefully, that dream can come true someday. In 2012, I had my first brain surgery, my recovery included re-learning how to walk and do basic skills again. One of my main goals with recovery was to be able to get back to rowing which I was able to do. Since then I have undergone 3 more additional brain surgeries, my last one being this past February. I was able to get back in a boat and on the water not even 6 months later! Two years ago, I applied for a grant thru the Challenged Athletes Foundation to obtain an erg for home use. I was the first winner for Challenged Athletes that was visually impaired and a recipient of an erg. Having the erg has improved my health and rowing skills. Not only am I able to participate in rowing with a visual impairment but it helps with my health too! I am looking forward to many more years of rowing with Three Rivers Rowing Association.