By Sara Shea
Six a.m. practices, bone chilling walks to the boathouse, frostbiting regattas – these are just a few hardships the Marist Crew team endures in any given season. Now add preparing to study abroad in Switzerland, working as a lifeguard, and being a vegetarian to the mix. One could say that Lydia Grace Charney is super woman – juggling major responsibilities with ease.
“Sometimes I think I’m a little crazy,” said Charney, now a sophomore on the varisty crew boat, “I was always involved in high school, so managing my time is a skill I developed early on.” Originally recruited to swim at Marist, Lydia traded in her cap and goggles for ergometers and spandex at the last minute. As a walk-on, Charney rowed in the freshman-novice boat last year.
Even with little to no experience, Lydia quickly excelled in the sport of rowing, seeming to move up in the boat constantly. “It’s surreal almost, to go from being a walk-on to a scholar athlete in one season,” she said, “I never would have imagined how much fun I could have while working so hard.”
Crew is a two-season sport, having meets in both the spring and fall. The team has practice every day except Sunday. “When you spend enough time with a group of people they become like your family. We eat together, practice together, go out together – if we’re not too tired,” Charney laughs, “At this point it’s hard to imagine life without these girls.”
With practice at 6:30 a.m. in the fall and 5:45 a.m. in the spring, it is a wonder Lydia even has time for classes. Instead of taking it easy academically, she is majoring in communications with a double concentration in journalism and public relations. Charney also works as a lifeguard at Mike Artega’s Gym across the street from Marist.
“Napping and eating right is crucial,” said Charney. As a vegetarian it is important that Lydia gets enough protein in her diet to support her intense schedule. Lydia is an avid animal rights activist and is extremely environmentally conscious. She is a member of PETA and Fox Paw, the animal rights group at Marist.
“Lydia is one of the kindest people I have ever met,” said Lydia’s teammate and roommate, Marist sophomore Kelly Furlong. “ She puts her all into everything she does – it’s amazing really. She genuinely cares about others and wants to help anyone in any way she can.”
Kelly is not the only member of the crew team that noticed Lydia’s kind hearted and loving nature. Lydia and sophomore Ryan Wojcik have been dating for about 6 months. Charney and Wojcik share three major life passions – rowing, music, and love. “Ryan is seriously my other half,” Lydia gushed, “I’m so lucky to have found him.”
Both on the varsity crew boat, Ryan and Lydia see each other at least once every day, even if it is at 6 o’clock in the morning. When the pressures of work and school get to be too much, the couple takes time to relax by going for walks along the river.
“Crew is a physically and mentally demanding sport,” said Wojcik. “For Lydia to walk on and excel like she did says a lot about her physical strength and the strength of her character.”