Welcome to the first edition of Meet the Crew! This week, we’re highlighting Hydrow Athlete James Dietz. Warm, fun-loving and easy-going, rowing with James feels a lot like working out with a good friend -- if that friend was also a world-class rower. With his even-keeled, steady approach, James knows exactly how to push you on the water to achieve your goals.
You’re what some might describe as “rowing royalty.” Did you ever feel pressured to pursue rowing given your father’s connection to the sport?
While my father (Jim Dietz) has had a prolific rowing career including multiple Olympic appearances, I was never actively pushed in that direction growing up. I was a distance runner for years, and actually went to the University of Massachusetts to run track. After a while, my relationship with running began to change, and I started looking for another competitive outlet. I tried rowing and felt that connection I had lost with running. It’s been a whirlwind ever since.
What has been your proudest rowing moment to date?
My proudest moment was an NSR (National Selection Regatta) in 2006 where I finished 3rd. For me this was a race down to the last stroke. When I crossed the finish line I wasn't 1st, but I knew that I had made it a race and had given it my all. That NSR launched me to my first World Cup in Lucerne and my U23 World Championship debut in Hazewinkel Belgium. It was an eye-opening year.
How would you describe your training style?
I like to create fun and engaging workouts that aren’t necessarily your typical workouts, but still get you where you want to be physically and mentally. Rowing gave me confidence, and helped me believe in my own strength and capabilities. I try to develop workouts that empower my teammates and anyone rowing with me at home to find their own definition of confidence and strength -- both on and off the water. As an athlete, I’m always working out and thinking about how I can improve or do better, so I try to deliver that same guidance to people who are rowing with me and want to do the same.
What’s your favorite part about being a Hydrow Athlete?
We’ve got a really fantastic group. Given our individual backgrounds, it’s a fairly competitive environment, but in the healthiest, best way possible -- we’re always trying to push each other to do our best and achieve our individual goals. We hold each other accountable, and have created this incredibly supportive, collaborative dynamic that has been really motivating to watch unfold. We’re all also training for different initiatives, so being able to witness that grind from all of our teammates is so inspiring.
What kinds of fitness activities do you enjoy outside of rowing?
I’m always working out, and love doing other non-rowing activities that require the same perseverance and mental toughness that I’ve developed through rowing. I definitely have a competitive streak, and always like to try something new. I’m actually taking on the Picnic this summer -- it’s a triathlon set in the Grand Teton mountains in Wyoming, and to be honest, it’s pretty gnarly -- but with this gorgeous, visually-stunning backdrop. It’ll be one of my biggest challenges to date, for sure -- but I can’t wait.
You talk about food… a lot… in your workouts. What’s your desert island food? That is, if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one food - what would it be?
Picking just one food would be tough. I feel like I crave different things at different times. I love the atmosphere of sitting around a table with friends eating lobster or crab. If I'm home I love to hit the grill and cook up some steak. If I'm tired and looking for a quick fix Hawaiian pizza with a side of wings has always been a go to.
That wraps up this edition of Meet the Crew. What would you like to learn about our Hydrow Athletes? Tweet your questions at @Hydrow_by_CREW using #AskTeamHydrow.