Liberty High School teen among region’s top rowers
June 9, 2009
By Jim Feehan
A solid work ethic is paying dividends for Alanah Bell. The sophomore, who lives in Newcastle and attends Liberty High School, can be found practicing rowing three hours a day, every weekday on Lake Sammamish. For the past 11 months, she’s been competing for the Sammamish Rowing Association.
Last month, she won the Cascade Springs Regatta on Lake Stevens women’s junior novice double event with Ellie Place, a student at the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus in Issaquah. In March, Bell was a member of the winning women’s junior varsity eight race at the Green Lake Spring Regatta.
Last summer, she had planned to turn out for volleyball until a friend suggested she give rowing a try.
“I like pushing myself to the extent of my physical limits,” she said. “It also makes you feel good about yourself afterward.”She said that mastering endurance and technique challenges her every day, but the key to winning a race is trust. A rower must trust in her ability to do her best through rigorous training.
Bell must also trust that her fellow rowers are giving 100 percent, until the last catch of the oar-blade. The fluid motion of the oars, a perfect synchronization of rowing motion, has no discernible end or beginning.
“You need all eight people rowing as hard as they can,” she said. “You certainly learn to work hard and not give up easily to succeed in rowing.”
Earlier this year, Bell attended a speech given by U.S. rower Anna Cummins, who won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and a gold in Beijing last year.
Cummins grew up in Bellevue and in 1998 graduated from Newport High School, where she won 12 varsity letters in cross country, basketball and track. She was a distance runner and wanted to run at the University of Washington, but instead ended up in the rowing program.
She entered UW women’s rowing, an absolute beginner in the sport. But within two years, she was a member of the U.S. national rowing team.
Cummins’ speech inspired Bell to dream big.
“If you aim high and set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” Bell said.