Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Ashton Brown to Help Make History in Women's Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Ashton Brown to Help Make History in Women's Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

Article excerpt

Canadian to make history in women's Boat Race


Canadian Ashton Brown will help make rowing history Saturday when her Cambridge crew takes on Oxford in the 70th edition of the Oxford-Cambridge women's boat race.

For the first time, the women will tackle the same 6.8-kilometre horseshoe-shaped course as the men on the River Thames in west London.

"There's no comparable race in the rowing world," said Brown.

In the past, the women competed over a two-kilometre straight course at Henley-on-Thames a week before the men raced.

Brown, 26, says the men's Tideway course takes its toll.

"You're in a lot of pain when you finish ... Every muscle is telling you to stop," said Brown.

The Oxford men won in 18 minutes 35 seconds last year. Compare that to the 5:50 that the Oxford women posted in winning at Henley.

The women will race an hour before the men Saturday.

Born in Lethbridge, Alta., Brown grew up in Calgary. She did her undergraduate degree in economics at Princeton, where she started rowing seriously.

Brown had first tried the sport at a summer camp in Grade 10. Posters for rowing tryouts at Princeton, saying no experience needed, lured her back in.

"I figured I was a step ahead of no experience, but not very far," she said.

That was back in 2007. An assistant coach thought she had no potential, which drove Brown to prove her wrong.

"After a couple of months I fell in love with it," she said.

Brown, who has nothing but good things to say about Princeton's longtime head coach Lori Dauphiny, won the national championship in her final year as the Princeton boat won all 13 of its races.

After Princeton, she was invited to train with the Canadian national team ahead of the 2012 Olympics. But Rowing Canada thought the five-foot-seven Brown was better suited to sculling than sweep-rowing.

Rather than go back to the drawing board, she eventually left to take a job with an investment firm that managed Princeton's endowments. While she enjoyed the work, she found herself spending her spare time reading academic papers related to her undergraduate research.

"I thought if I'm doing it on the weekend, I should be doing it for a job," she said. …

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