Irene Wang '22 does not let anything or anyone stop her, not even herself.
An international student from China who came to Cincinnati Country Day School in 2019, Irene is a National Merit Commended student and involved in the International Club. But rowing is where her real passion lies – on a boat and in the water.
During her sophomore year, Irene decided to try rowing but before her season could start, the Covid-19 pandemic hit so Irene started doing Zoom workouts at home.
"Even back then, when I barely understood how to move the boat, I knew it was something I'd want to spend more time doing,” said Wang. “It was the feeling of wind passing by you when you move on the water. There is something special about that.”
Irene describes herself as "not physically built like a rower" because of her shorter height and smaller frame, but she does not let that stop her.
"I have to focus so much on my technique to balance out the disadvantage of my height,” said Wang. “But I am a very serious person when it comes to sports, and I try hard at every practice.”
At the beginning of her junior year, Irene was determined to perfect her rowing skills. Yet, even with her drive and determination, juggling schoolwork, clubs, friends, and rowing practice made Irene feel overwhelmed. But she didn't give up; she joined a year-round rowing club team to get more off-season practice.
"I always remind myself what my mom told me when I was five – if I want to start something, don't quit halfway; I must try my best. And that's what I do for everything," she said.
Despite placing in last place in almost every race at first, she kept trying.
“In the beginning, I was far behind everyone else, trying to keep up but then I started to move up,” said Wang. “Instead of celebrating my minor victories, like passing other boats, I looked behind me and then kept going. Then I got to a point where I could keep up with the front of the group. But that was not my goal, so I didn't stop there. I moved from the end of the race to the front in less than a year.”
Having improved her rowing techniques and falling in love with the elegance of the sport, Irene applied to Harvard University in hopes of joining their crew team.
"Am I proud of myself? Yes, I am incredibly proud of who I've become," said Wang. "But am I going to stop because I've achieved something? No, never. There is no end to trying hard. There is no end to being the best version of myself."