It was quite a summer for last year’s USC varsity crew captain, senior Taylor Beach. Beach had the honor of being invited to train with members of the U.S. National Rowing team at Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Vermont, a training center that produces some of the United States’ most successful elite rowers.
Beach, who began his rowing career just three years ago as a walk-on at USC, competed in the U.S. Under-23 Rowing Trials in West Windsor, New Jersey in late June and placed third in the lightweight single scull event, just missing out on securing a spot on the U.S. team after winning his two preliminary races. Beach also made the finals of the lightweight single scull event at the U.S. Elite National Championship in Princeton, New Jersey, placing sixth while racing for USC.
At the same event, Beach and his four-man boat placed third while competing as a team in a race where nearly every other participant was a national team athlete or Olympian. In fact, Beach’s boat defeated the USA World University Games crew by three open lengths of water — the rowing equivalent of three touchdowns.
In late July, Beach went on to win the heavyweight double scull event with Cornell senior Ned Benning, which qualified the pair to race as members of the U.S. National Team at the U23 World Championships later in the summer.
There, Beach, along with Benning, placed 16th at the 2015 Under-23 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in the men’s double scull event. While representing their country, Beach’s boat finished fourth in its final race.
“Having made my first national team is the first step on the way to future Olympic selection, but there’s a lot of work left to do,” Beach said.
Third-year USC men’s crew head coach Paul Wilkins, who’s worked with Beach extensively over the course of his rowing career, said that Beach gives his younger rowers something to look up to and aspire to be.
“He is a tribute to how far you can go with how hard you work,” Wilkins said. “His great desire to achieve and win at the highest level has gotten him to where he is today.”
A former member of the recreational club council executive board, Beach’s experience within USC’s club sports department also shows the depth and ability of low-budget programs to produce athletes who can compete at the highest levels of their sports, according to USC Men’s Crew board member Stan Mullin.
With more than 50 clubs, Recreational Sports represents a diverse collection of athletes. Some of these teams aim to compete locally, others regionally, some nationally and — in rare cases — some internationally. While these sports may not operate on large budgets, they’re showing that they can be extremely competitive and successful, and Beach is a prime example of that.
“It was exciting to represent my club team at the highest levels of competition in the world, and I hope it shows students everywhere in the University that walk-on athletes and those who are willing to work hard can achieve any level of success they want,” Beach said.
This year, Beach, who is majoring in business administration and english literature, is spending his time training at the men’s crew rowing center in San Pedro in preparation for the 2016 Under-23 World Championships.
After being founded as a varsity sport in 1948 and then reestablished as a club sport in 2001, the USC Men’s Crew program, which currently boasts over 40 members, traditionally competes nationally against other top collegiate programs.
Beach says that his success at the international level wouldn’t have been possible without the program’s support, and that it’s an honor to represent USC when competing among the world’s best.
“Twelve hundred USC Men’s Crew alumni and supporters have followed Taylor’s racing career, culminating in his success this summer,” Mullin said. “His integrity and leadership with the other oarsmen, coxswains and alumni are what truly make him a role model and spokesperson for the University.”
Beach will look to continue his training in hopes of one day competing at the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympics and earning a medal for the United States.