Photo courtesy of Naomi Baker Sport Photography
They travel through the water, propelled by lean oars that slice with barely a trace—a continuous, synchronistic cycle. Breathing in. Breathing out. Gathering force. Breathing in again.
For 24-year-old Bermudian Shelley Pearson, rowing is like breathing. Living without it is simply unimaginable.
“I can remember the moment I fell in love with the sport,” says Shelley. “I felt all the athletes in the boat rowing in perfect harmony. It was as if we were gliding weightlessly on top of the water. The moment you’ve experienced that feeling — it’s what you constantly strive toward.”
With multiple U.S. National Championships, a World Rowing Junior Championships gold medal and numerous honors in national collegiate and international competitions, some might say it’s in her genes. Her father competed for Bermuda in running, her brother in basketball. But beyond family tradition is a relentless determination in spite of a fractured pelvic bone, torn tendon and nine hospital procedures in three years.
“It has made me realize I am resilient and also how much of it is mental rather than physical.”