Rower Connection: Simon DeSantis

Simon and his 2nd place pie at the Springfield Rockrimmon regatta

How did you find the sport of rowing? Or did it find you?

It’s a family tradition. Rowing was big in my mom’s family. When she went back to college during my childhood, she joined a crew team made up of continuing education students at Wellesley College. I spent a lot of time playing on the beach of Lake Waban during their practices and her eight came over for dinner once a week. When I moved to Connecticut, I wanted to try new hobbies. I saw that Riverfront Recapture offered a learn to row program and decided to give it a try. I rowed with RRI for several years through different programs. A few years ago I wanted a less intense and more cost effective way to row. I decided to switch to FVRA because of my friendship with Katie and Ryan and have been happy since.

Simon with Master’s Racing Team members at Derby Sweeps and Sculls


What do you enjoy most about the sport? What do you enjoy most about FVRA? 

I love practicing a movement over and over again, trying to make each stroke better than the last, or at least consistent. Hand-eye coordination and fast reflexes are not my strengths, but stamina and repetition are. Other sports I’ve done have been swimming and cycling which are similar.

I love that once you’re in the boat, you’re in the boat until you’re done. When I’m in a single, there’s no escape from myself. I need to deal with whatever I’ve brought into the boat with me and however I am rowing that day. And if I just want to be done and quit, I still have to row back to the dock. When I’m in a boat with others, I need to keep rowing until we’re all done, matching the intensity of the group. It forces me to push past the part of me that wants to quit and take a rest. I love finding the strength that I didn’t think I had.

I love making my body move with others in sync. There’s something really meditative and primal about it. It’s something I missed during the pandemic when everything was remote. The delay inherent to video conferencing made it almost impossible.

Most of all I love that you can sit down. I hate running.

As for FVRA, I love the relaxed and supportive atmosphere. Everyone is just there to enjoy rowing and share that with each other. It’s great.

What keeps you coming back for more?

Rowing and people. I love rowing and I love seeing my buddies at practice.

A beautiful morning on Rainbow Reservoir

Do you have any rowing-related goals for the 2023 season?

It’s the end of the season as I write this. I got to race in a single, a double and a quad over the course of the year. Each one was challenging and fun. For next year, I want to do more racing. I’d like to do a head race in a single, but I want to be ready in terms of fitness and technique to make it worth the time and money.

Are you facing any challenges in the sport, and how are you overcoming them?

My biggest challenge is time these days. I was good about practicing over the summer but it’s fallen off since I started grad school in the fall. If I don’t row consistently, it feels like I am starting over for the first few km of each row. It is rewarding each time.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start rowing

Do a learn to row day! It’s a supportive environment for trying something that is kind of challenging to get started in. We will walk you through everything from picking the boat up to taking strokes on the water.


Fun Fact: Simon’s Grandfather won a Bronze medal at the 1948 Olympics in a Men’s 4+!