Amazing Women Masters Rower:
Kate Garfinkel

What rowing moment you are most proud of?
First medal – corporate novice 8+ at Head of the Ohio.  I had won trophies for debate and extemporaneous speaking in high school, but never for sports!

How has rowing shaped you?
Until I was 47, I never thought of myself as an athlete.  Now, because of rowing, it is central to who I am.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to row your best?
Blending competitive rowing with my career.  What I’ve found is that when I establish and clearly articulate my boundaries, people respect them. 

What are the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from rowing?
There is no “perfect,” only building a foundation then working toward a goal, brick by brick. 

What inspires you to keep rowing?
From my first time in the boat, I have been hooked.  The feeling of swing in the boat, the peace of a single row, the camaraderie of my teammates, Craftsbury, meeting other rowers from around the world, the achievements of our adaptive and First Row athletes at Three Rivers, watching junior rowers grow, race fast, and return to the club as coaches. . .  (how much space do I have? 🙂 

What club or team are you currently rowing with?
Three Rivers Rowing in Pittsburgh 

What do you like most about rowing a single or with others?
They complement one another.  The single gives me immediate feedback that I can incorporate into team boats.  There is nothing that compares with the harmony and speed that happens in a great row in an 8. 

What are you currently working towards as a rower? as a competitor?
Currently training for head season, and my first Head of the Charles (with Avalon Rowing).

What advice do you have for other women rowers?
Keep showing up!  And reach out to other women rowers if you see they are struggling. 

If you’d like to share your story in our “Amazing Women Masters Rowers” series, please email

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Author: Vreni Hommes

Why We Row celebrates the unique lives and incredible stories of Women Masters Rowers.