May 29, 2014
When senior rowing standout Bryna Oleshansky made her first visit to the University of Michigan, it didn't take long for her to feel a sense of belonging. Part of that was the connection to her father David, a Michigan alum, which gave her a good feeling before her trip to Ann Arbor. But much of her excitement came from the all-around experience that the University of Michigan promised to offer.
A highly decorated prep school rower from Knoxville, Tenn., Oleshansky's selection of Michigan wasn't a given. In 2009, Oleshansky was one of 50 high school athletes selected for the USRowing women's junior selection team, recording the fastest 2,000-meter rowing machine time by a female junior athlete in the 30-year history of the Atomic Rowing Association. Oleshansky's rowing experience began in sixth grade with the Oak Ridge Rowing Association, and she quickly developed into one of the top rowers in the nation. Oleshansky had multiple scholarship offers but chose Michigan, a place where she has thrived on and off the water.
Oleshansky served as the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) community engagement chair in 2013-14. She helped facilitate U-M's Let's Go Do campaign, a revamped and enhanced student-athlete community service program that was officially launched in November. In the classroom, Oleshansky is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. As a rower on Michigan's 1V8 crew, Oleshansky earned All-Big Ten First Team honors on May 19 and was named to the CRCA Central All-Region First Team this week.
Oleshansky will compete at the 2014 NCAA Rowing Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., this weekend (May 30-June 1), her last in a Michigan uniform. She will then look ahead to this summer and the USRowing U23 National Team Selection Camp, which begins on June 8 at the University of California and continues on July 8 in Princeton, N.J., for final preparation for the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Varese, Italy.
Michigan left for Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday to train near the competition site this week, and Oleshansky reflected on her Michigan career this week with MGoBlue.com.
Q: Talk about training in Bloomington. How have preparations gone so far this week?
Oleshansky: We've done that all four years that I've been here, we go to wherever we are racing and train a few days before NCAAs. It's really nice to get out of Ann Arbor, to be in the hotel all together and to be training in a different place. It helps us get acclimated to where we are racing. It's nice to be eating together, training together, and all at the same place all the time.
Q: Michigan has gone to the NCAA Rowing Championships in all four years that you've been with the team. What do you enjoy most about this regatta?
Oleshansky: I think the thing I like most about it is getting to race about all of the best crews in the country. We race certain teams throughout the year, but this is the time when everyone's all together and you really see who is fast. This being my senior year, it hasn't really hit me yet that it's all coming to an end, but I think that this weekend it'll really sink in. It'll be exciting but I'll also be sad to be done.
Q: Michigan has one of the top rowing teams in the nation this year, but was edged by No. 1 Ohio State two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships. What was the takeaway from that competition?
Oleshansky: We were obviously disappointed that we didn't win the (Big Ten) Championship. That's been our goal since Big Tens last year. But looking back on it, it's a little less disappointing then we originally felt after the race. We've rowed a lot as a crew since January when went down to Tampa, and it's been a similar (1V8) lineup since then, so it's been really nice to grow together and come together as a group. Every day that we row together we've been getting better and better.
Q: What is Michigan's outlook heading into this weekend at the NCAA Rowing Championships?
Oleshansky: It's all about who is peaking at the right time, who is racing the best, and who has enough juice in the tank to finish out the weekend. I think it's a realistic goal for us to finish in the top three, and having it be one of the best seasons in Michigan Rowing history.
Q: With this being your final weekend in a Michigan uniform, have you had time to reflect on your experience over the last four years in Ann Arbor?
Oleshansky: When I came on my official visit to Michigan, I had no idea where I wanted to go to school, but I had one of those moments where I felt this is where I'm supposed to be. Being able to come to a school that I knew I was going to love from the first time I stepped on campus, where my dad went to school, it was really nice. I can't compare it to anything. Everything about being here at Michigan has changed my life for the better. I've had so many opportunities here that I don't think I would have had anywhere else. I've gotten to grow up away from home but still have a really tight, close knit family in Michigan. It's nice to have the rowing family, my athletic department family, and also my real family. It's a home away from home.
Q: Next year, you'll return to Michigan as an assistant coach while you complete your studies. Will be it nice to come back here next year in a new role?
Oleshansky: I'm happy that I'll be around the team next year because I'm not really ready to leave yet. My sister (Rae) is coming to Michigan next year, so it'll be nice to pass down that legacy to her and I hope that she has as many good experiences that I had.