The very first time Andy LeRoux ’20 sat in a boat, he knew it was something he was passionate about.

“My best friend at the time was a rower. He suggested I try it, and I went to the boathouse in Florida and immediately fell in love with it,” he told the Daily Princetonian .

LeRoux, a Florida native, began his rowing career 10 years ago in his freshman year of high school. During his high school career, he was on Team USA and competed in the World Junior Rowing Championships. His success in high school eventually led him to Princeton, where he was a member of the men’s heavyweight team. But even before setting foot on campus, LeRoux aspired to push rowing as far as he could, aiming for the Olympics as early as his high school days.

In an interview with the “Prince,” LeRoux opened up about his early experiences at Princeton.

“Early [in] my freshman year, one of the guys I looked up to a lot was Nick Mead [’17]. He was the captain of my freshman year. He’s a great guy…he was a good team leader. He went out [to one of the training centers] right after graduating and then ended up going to [the] Tokyo [Olympics]”, LeRoux said. “I feel like he was always a good role model for me and an inspiration.”

Following in Mead’s footsteps, LeRoux was named captain of the heavyweight team his senior year. For LeRoux, his leadership and overall college rowing experience helped prepare him for his professional rowing career.

“[College] is almost like a period of development to go to the international level. A lot of guys here have done it [under-23s] at one point or were at the top of the programs in college,” LeRoux explained.

Although he still has a lot to row, LeRoux credits the Princeton program for his growth and preparation to compete at such a high level.

“[College] definitely kind of prepares you to come here to practice, try to make the olympics…there’s more to do after college, but i think [I] definitely improved a lot at Princeton,” he said.

Compared to training at Princeton, rowing at a professional level has a very different focus. In college, education was still the top priority, but now LeRoux says he feels more pressure when it comes to rowing. He points out that unlike his time at university, there are no second chances.

“In college,” he said, “if you don’t make the best boat, there’s a second boat, or if you don’t make the second boat, there’s the third boat.”

“You are always going to race. You will always have a good time. Whereas here, if you’re not part of the team, there’s no second boat to sit in,” continued LeRoux.

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With higher levels of rowing comes more intense training. According to LeRoux, while the schedule is similar to his college schedule in terms of workouts, the amount of rowing is very different.

“The level of fitness is certainly generally higher – you compete at the highest level. So I think the biggest difference is at Princeton, you know, we can be trained to like, do maybe eight sessions a week,” he said. “Whereas here we’ll do like 10 or 11. And each session tends to be a bit longer too.”

Along with helping LeRoux improve his rowing abilities, Princeton also helped him prepare academically. He said Princeton’s heavy course load taught him crucial time management skills, a skill he uses when rowing professionally while taking full-time classes.

His typical routine consists of two things: rowing and going to class. LeRoux said he rows about 20,000 days a day, followed by a second workout in the evening. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., he is either seated in a boat or in a classroom. Despite a grueling schedule, LeRoux prides himself on hard work, knowing that his efforts will bring him one step closer to qualifying for the Olympic Trials.

A rower can take two paths to participate in the Olympic Games: he can be selected during a selection camp or win a try to qualify. Additionally, for men 8+, the top five places at the World Championships automatically qualify for an Olympic spot.

“Hopefully I’ll make the World Championships team this summer. I don’t know which boat, but any boat would be good,” commented LeRoux.

The next few years leading up to the 2024 Olympics will be extremely important for LeRoux. With a few races to come this summer, he maintains a positive frame of mind, aiming to make the national team to represent the United States at the World Championships in September.

“Throughout September will be pretty, pretty intense, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m really excited to gain international experience at the elite level. I think it’s really helpful to get teams around the world ready for the Olympics.

Even with his ambitions to compete in the Olympics sitting in the back of his head, LeRoux chooses to take it day by day.

“My mind thinks about it in the shorter term,” he said. “First step: do it. [World Championship] team this year. And then take it one step at a time.

Lizzie Evanko is a sports writer associated with the “Prince”. She can be contacted at [email protected]