Burton Beach rowers represent USA at world championships

The Junior and U23 World Rowing Championships, which began on July 23, are being hosted in Varese, Italy, with five rowers with ties to the Burton Beach Rowing Club representing the U.S.

The Junior and U23 World Rowing Championships, which began on July 23, are being hosted in Varese, Italy, with five rowers with ties to the Burton Beach Rowing Club (BBRC) representing the U.S.

For sister and brother, Kate and Davis Kelly, both Vashon High School graduates, the event is doubling as a family reunion. Kate, who is entering her junior year at the University of Virginia (UVA), is rowing stroke in the Coxed Four for the U23 national team, and Davis, who will be attending Brown University in the fall, will row in the 8+ in the U19 competition.

“The chance to race in Italy and compete for the U.S., along with my brother, is something I could never have imagined,” said Kate. “My experience at the BBRC and at the UVA has ensured that I’m prepared for high-level training and high-stakes racing. I’m thrilled … to row and compete internationally for the United States, and grateful for the opportunities given to me by my coaches and the support from my parents through the years.”

Kate was a founding member of the BBRC where she had a very successful rowing career. This is her second stint on the U.S. National team — she bowed the U.S. junior coxless four to sixth place in 2019.

This will also be the second time to compete on the world stage for Kate’s brother, Davis, who placed 9th in the coxless four in last year’s competition.

“I’m looking forward to representing the USA again this summer. It’s a great way to close the loop on what’s been a fantastic four years at Burton Beach,” said Davis. “I feel really lucky to have had such a strong support system around me throughout my time there.”

Davis has been a member of the BBRC for all four years of its existence. He was the 2022 Single Champion at Brentwood in Canada, and the 2022 US U19 Indoor Rowing Champion.

In addition to the Kellys, there are three other rowers with BBRC connections in Italy this week. Gabbie Graves, another founding member of the club, will be in Italy as a traveling reserve for all of the boats. Graves is entering her sophomore year at the University of Michigan, where she is a member of the first Varsity 8.

Jordan Dykema, a member of the BBRC in the fall of 2021, will row with Davis in the 8+. Dykema will row for Harvard University, starting this September.

Isabella “Bel” Battistoni, a Holy Names rower who now rows at Stanford, briefly trained with the BBRC during COVID. She will race for the USA in the U23 Women’s 8+.

For BBRC coach Richard Parr, having so many former rowers competing at this level is a treat.

“It’s been fun and rewarding to work with these athletes, most of whom I’ve known since their novice seasons and I’ve seen them grow into amazing young adults, both on and off the water,” said Parr. “We have a laugh, but they put in the work. It’s great to see so many from our small island on the world stage.”

The BBRC is building on this success with a new crop of young rowers. Seven members of the club went to Nationals this year, six of whom were in their first year of rowing.

“Our primary goal is to introduce young athletes to the sport of rowing. We keep our club small to ensure our rowers get the proper attention they need to succeed,” said Parr. “We are looking for some new novice rowers. If you want to have fun and row fast, reach out to us at burtonbeachrowing@gmail.com and come give us a try.”