One of the top rowers in the United States, Felice Mueller (2008-2012) learned to love rowing at Belleville Lake as a standout on the Michigan rowing team. A highly accomplished rower at the collegiate level, Mueller was named 2012 Michigan Female Athlete of the Year. She earned College Rowing Coaches Association Pocock All-America first team honors and was named the Big Ten Rower of the Year after leading the Wolverines to a Big Ten championship and a second-place finish in the 2012 NCAA Championships. She was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a four-year letterwinner at Michigan.
After graduating from the School of Art & Design, Mueller committed to training with USRowing full time, and her athletic career has taken her around the world over the past two years. Last week at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, Mueller won bronze in the women's quadruple sculls, her third medal in the event in international competition. She will continue to train this year with an eye on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Q. You've continued rowing after college with plenty of international success. How did your rowing experience at Michigan help prepare you for your current training regimen?
A. My time at Michigan made my current athletic career. Before I became a Wolverine I didn't really enjoy rowing or being an athlete. My motivation to keep competing was simply because I was good at it. However, after joining the Michigan rowing team I finally fell in love with the sport. Being around strong, determined and self-motivated women had a great impression on me. I continued to redefine what it meant to work hard on a team like that, and that mentality has been extremely helpful in my transition to training on the US National Team.
Q. As you prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics, what is your routine now? Where have you been training and what are some activities you've been involved in outside of rowing?
A. I have been training almost exclusively in Princeton, New Jersey at the Princeton Training Center. We go train in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center in the winter. We train 6-7 days a week. We usually have two, sometimes three practices a day, but if we trainon Sundayit's usually on our own and only one practice. The training is a lot of volume, which was similar to the Michigan training plan in my senior year. The idea is you build up a big aerobic base and keep improving fitness, then sharpen with the quick intense work as racing gets closer. Aside from training, I coach a junior rowing team in the fall and spring. I have also tried to keep up with some creative art: painting, drawing and dyeing fabric. I've slowly been building up some new work. What I'll do with it -- I have no plans yet but I'm happy to have a creative outlet.
Q. What sticks with you from your academic experience at Michigan?
A. I really struggled trying to balance my Art & Design coursework and rowing my first two years of school. My freshman and sophomore years really showed me that you need to be tough to work hard. Some days you may not get enough sleep, or might not be feeling well, or can't find the time to get everything done, but that doesn't mean you have to let those things affect you. I learned to acknowledge them and move on. Those years taught me to stay centered and focused at what you're doing in the moment. Those lessons are valuable to me when I'm in the midst of national team selection or lining up for a race. If I can stay centered and focused on the task at hand, and not get pulled by stress or by other life events, I have a leg up on my competition and I'm always prepared.
Q. You won medals at the World Cup and World Championships in France and Amsterdam in the past few months. What was the highlight of the summer between all of the travel and competition?
A. My final race at the World Championships was an absolute blast. Going into the race all six boats in the A final were maybe a couple seconds apart in terms of speed. It was anyone's race. We went out there with no expectations except to have our best race. We did have our best race that day. It was hard, but I could feel all of us committing to something together. The race was never about anyone else but ourselves. The pain is always there, but we rowed with absolute joy, and it was one of the most fun races I've ever been in. That race and our 2012 Big Ten Championship race would be my two favorite races.
Q. What's next for you this fall/winter?
A. We now have three weeks off! The vacation time will be filled with a road trip with friends, concerts and family. I will definitely be stopping by Ann Arbor for a couple days. But once that's over, it's back to training and coaching in Princeton!
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