Like most student-athletes, rising Woodside Priory senior Meena Baher grew tired of working out on her own while the world tried to survive the COVID-19 pandemic last summer.
Her mom suggested Los Gatos Rowing Club’s ‘Learn How to Row’ camp last July and, as a result of attending, she’s grown into a rising star in the sport.
Her rapid development, from camper to novice to varsity, led to a fifth-place finish (third in her semifinal) in Single Scull at the Youth National Regatta in June in Sarasota, Fla. and an invitation to the selection camp for the Under-19 National team in Chula Vista earlier this month.
Baher, who lives in Mountain View, earned a spot on the Women’s Quadruple Sculls and will compete at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in mid-August.
“During the pandemic I lost the ability to play team sports, which was something I was so used to,” Baher wrote in an e-mail from Chula Vista, where the 60-member team is currently preparing for competition. “I was running on my own to stay fit but it just wasn’t the same.”
Baher began her high school career at Cate School, a boarding school in Carpinteria, where she ran cross country, played basketball, swam and ran track and field.
As a sophomore, she led the Rams basketball team in scoring (16.2 points a game) and a Frontier League title.
Baher transferred to Priory for her junior year when she decided to join the Los Gatos Rowing Club. After four months as a novice, Baher was promoted to varsity.
“After my first rowing camp, my legs and upper back were the most sore,” Baher wrote. “It's a common misconception that rowing is an arm sport. It's actually the legs that play the biggest role!”
Baher spent most of her junior year online, making it easier to work out once a day with the rowing club without having to rush off to a physical location.
It’s an entirely different situation now that she’s working with the national team and 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls are routine.
“I went from only practicing once a day to having two practices a day, each around three hours,” Baher wrote. “It is a lot more volume and higher intensity work than I was used to but it's been so great because I learn more about myself as a rower every day.”
Baher credits her coaches Jaime Velez, who also serves as the club director, and Peter Cannia for their support.
“Both of them did everything they could to help all of my dreams become a reality from the start,” Baher wrote.
Baher’s teammates for the quadruple sculls are Annie Henning, a Dallas resident who recorded the fastest mark during the time trials in Sarasota, Jackie Oruci of Oyster Bay, N.Y. and Heather Schmidt of Niskayuna, N.Y.