A Stroke of Greatness: Aquil

Leanne Yenush

What does #AStrokeOfGreatness mean to you? A 2000 meter race can take you anywhere from 190 to 230 strokes. Thousands and thousands of strokes go into the preparation for each one of those strokes. A Stroke Of Greatness is every one of those thousands of strokes that you take to get to the starting line so that you can be ready to take a couple hundred more.

How did you choose rowing?  Like many athletes, I sort of fell into the sport because so many people row on the Potomac River in Washington D.C.. I started rowing in high school mostly to stay in shape for the sports I considered my main sports, and then it got real! I was offered a scholarship to row at The George Washington University and I accepted. Rowing provided me with an opportunity and an outlet to push myself as hard as I was able to go… as long as I showed up every single day, I could get out of it as much as I put in. 

Since then, I have been on six Senior National Teams, one Olympic Team (at the 2004 Athens Games), one Pan-American Team, and represented the United States in numerous other World Cup and International Competitions. 

What is your proudest athletic achievement?  Winning the Diamond Sculls Championship at the Royal Henley Regatta is certainly one of my proudest achievements. In the last century, there are probably fewer than 10 Americans that have won the title, so it’s really cool being a part of that history.

What does that mean to you to have represented the United States in the Olympics and on the international stage?  Representing your country on the international stage is a singular experience. To know that there are millions of people cheering for you is a humbling experience. The only thing they know about me is that I am the best in my discipline in my sport. They see the Red, White and Blue and will me on to my best performance because in that moment we share a common dream, the desire to be part of something greater than ourselves and to be in a moment when greatness is actualized.

What type of work went into where you are today? I am a plodder, I fight the war of attrition, I am a true contrarian, tell me I can’t and I will just to spite you! To become an Olympian requires, at times, single-minded determination to the exclusion of all else, it can be an entirely selfish enterprise. But getting to the Olympics requires support, which requires gratitude. To make it to the top there needs to be a recognition that the pursuit is yours alone, but that you cannot get there by yourself.

What sets Hydrow apart from other teams that you have been on?

On every team that I’ve been on there was always someone that I was competing against. On any given day I could be racing against one of my best friends and it could mean the end of the dream for one of us. At Hydrow, we are a community, and even though we sometimes compete against each other, most of the time we compete with each other. Our success is not measured by how great we are, but by how great we make others.

What’s your personal motto?  Do Good Things!  Namaste and Karate Chops! 

-- Learn more about Aquil here, follow him on Instagram here, and learn a bit more about his workout style here.