Rising fourth-year Stuart McDonald was selected to represent the United States at the 2018 World University Championships as a rower from August 10 to 12 in Shanghai. The World University Championships are part of the sporting events of the International University Sports Federation, which take place every even-numbered year and date back to the 1960s. McDonald defines the World University Championships as an “Olympics for universities.” This year, 34 different sporting events will be held in various cities around the world.
McDonald joined UChicago Crew during his first-year orientation though he had never rowed before. His coaches quickly noticed his talent for the sport, which through his dedication to training has materialized into this impressive feat. In just his second summer as a rower after his second year of college, McDonald stroked (rowed stern-most) Lincoln Park Boat Club (LPBC)’s Open and Lightweight Eights to gold at the Chicago Sprints. He also helped LPBC’s Senior Lightweight Four with Cox finish fourth at U.S. Club Nationals.
This past spring, he stroked UChicago Men’s Lightweight Four with Cox, Double, and Varsity Eight to gold at the Illinois Collegiate Rowing Invitational, contributing to the Club Varsity Men’s sweep across all events and, together with UChicago Women, winning the overall points trophy. For the past two years, McDonald has stroked the UChicago Men’s Lightweight Four with Cox to second-place finishes in the grand finals at the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Rowing Association championships and the American Collegiate Rowing Association national championships as well as fourth-place finishes in grand finals at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in North America. The structure and schedule of rowing, McDonald said, helps keep him sane in the “rough environment that is UChicago.”
While in the process of applying to the national team selection camp for the U23 Men’s Lightweight Quad last winter, McDonald learned about the World University Championships and applied, after consulting the national team recruiter. He submitted test scores and a video of him rowing and, several months later, was offered a spot at both the U23 development camp and the World University Championships team. Facing a difficult decision, McDonald again consulted the national team recruiter who recommended the World University Championships team. “I think I always wanted to do this instead,” McDonald said, regarding his decision to row in the World University Championships.
Since June 2, McDonald has been training in Ypsilanti, MI, under University of Michigan’s decorated head coach Gregg Hartsuff. The training camp continues until the end of the event on August 12. McDonald described his experience so far as “Wild, just completely different from anything I’ve experienced. We train 2–3 times per day, twice on the water and once on the erg [indoor rowing machine]…. However, I have loved every second of it. It makes me more competitive and makes me rethink what is fast and what is not.” McDonald added, “My teammates are from Michigan, Oregon State, Harvard, Oxford Brookes, etc., so having the opportunity to row with this caliber of rowers has been fantastic.”
McDonald is a rising fourth-year neuroscience and psychology double major from Vail, CO.