Locals Head for the Olympics

Stitt, second from left above, and Lanzone, right, are going to Beijing. Photograph courtesy of USRowing
Stitt, second from left above, and Lanzone, right, are going to Beijing. Photograph courtesy of USRowing

The Washington area seems to have grown into a swimming powerhouse, what with Beijing Olympians Katie Hoff, Kate Ziegler, and Michael Phelps all calling the area home. Now Washington may be adding a second water sport to its Olympic holdings: rowing. Two former McLean students will be competing for medals at the newly built Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing.

Sam Stitt, 27, a local legend in high-school rowing, took up the sport as a sophomore at McLean High School, just one year after the program started. He later rowed at Rutgers and at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-on-Thames. After college, he returned to coach McLean’s freshman boys crew team.

At McLean High and Rutgers, Stitt rowed mostly in eight-man shells where the style of oar is sweep. Sweep rowers pull one oar apiece, alternating port or starboard side down the length of the boat. After college, he gravitated to sculling (one oar in each hand) in two-man and four-man shells—doubles and quads, as they are called.

At the Rowing World Cup in June in Switzerland, Stitt’s boat won the gold medal for men’s quad by passing defending world champion Poland in the race’s final moments.

Joining Stitt in China will be a younger McLean alum, Giuseppe Lanzone, 25. Lanzone has a spot on the men’s four, where the style of rowing is sweep as distinct from the sculling style of Stitt’s quad. At the World Cup event in Lucerne, Lanzone’s four finished in third place to bring home the bronze medal.

Related: Where to Watch the Olympics 

This article first appeared in the August 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles like it, click here

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