Alexandra rower and librarian Mackenzie Ealson is excited to begin a new chapter in her book of rowing adventures when she takes up a Yale University sports scholarship in the United States later this year.
The Dunstan Arm Rowing Club under›20 member won her first gold medal at senior women’s level at the New Zealand National Championships in February, as part of an Alexandra-based quad coached by Simon Smith.
Ealson has been training hard and working part time as a librarian at the Central Otago Education Centre since she left Dunstan College at the end of 2021.
She recently learned she was one of just 12 first year women to win a Yale University rowing scholarship from many ‘‘freshmen’’ applicants from around the United States and the world.
‘‘I am not entirely sure of my programme but I am thinking of studying ecology and biology . . . I don’t know how many they interviewed but there are 40 athletes on the women’s team. I will be doing 20 hours a week on the water, and rowing machines and in the gym, which is more or less what I am doing at the moment,’’ she said.
Ealson rowed in various combinations throughout her years at primary and secondary school, earning many age group titles at New Zealand Secondary Schools Maadi Cup and New Zealand National Championships.
‘‘I started rowing in primary school and I had a lot of success with the Dunstan Arm Rowing Club. That led to me wanting to take it a bit further.
‘‘Then I found out I could go to university in the United States on scholarship,’’ she said.
The national senior women’s quad title in February is a career highlight for Ealson, who rowed with Ella Price, Pipi Horan, and Sophie Smith.
Ealson has also won doubles bronze and silver medals at national level with Dunedin rower Eva Hoffmans.
Yesterday Ealson travelled to Canberra to compete for the first time with the New Zealand under-21 rowing team in a transtasman competition until June 23.
She will row in a quad and eight and hopes to also race some sprint and long-distance events.
The competition was transferred to Canberra from Penrith, Sydney, after recent floods damaged the Penrith venue.
Ealson will then return home to Alexandra to continue saving and training before leaving for Yale University in August.
Yale University’s rowing venue is on the Housatonic River at New Haven, in Connecticut.