Andy Liverman slides into a booth at the Tombs, a bar in Georgetown, orders a beer, and apologizes for being late. “I spend most of my time running from one place to the next,” he says.
Liverman is part of Washington’s small world of elite crew. Beneath the easygoing personality is a determined athlete. He won 2005’s lightweight singles race at Boston’s Head of the Charles Regatta and is training for this month’s National Selection Regatta in Princeton, New Jersey, where he hopes to qualify for the World Championships in England.
A DC native, Liverman went to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire and then to Yale. In high school, his cross-country coach encouraged him to try rowing. The first time on a rowing machine, he says, “my arms were all over the place, and I was doing everything wrong, but my time was not bad.” As his coach had suspected, the lean, six-foot Liverman was built for rowing.
Six mornings a week, Liverman awakes at 5:30 to train on the Potomac. He calls his regimen a “hedonistic pleasure.” He has a strict diet; from a menu full of burgers and French fries, Liverman orders tuna salad.
Liverman likes rowing because it’s a challenge. “There is a pinnacle of perfection you are working toward.” To perfect their stroke, rowers make tiny changes in position and movement to maximize efficiency and speed. The results are immediate: “You either see a change in your time or you don’t; you either win or you lose.”
After graduating from Yale, Liverman spent two years training to qualify for the 2004 Olympics but was defeated by a pair of former Olympians. Burned out, Liverman took a year off and realized he could never make a living doing what he loves. “Rowing is not everything I am. I’ve been given athletic gifts, but I’ve been given other gifts as well.”
Now he’s trying to find balance—time for rowing, a career, and a social life. He works for a DC developer and spends time with his girlfriend, but neither satisfies his craving for competition.
He hasn’t decided whether he’ll try for the 2008 Olympics. But he’ll continue to compete. “For me, rowing is a foil for life. There are highs and lows, disappointments and accomplishments. It teaches you perspective.”