Former graduate Grace Latz shares Olympic training experience


Courtesy of Mlive

Olympic rower Grace Latz

Shealyn Paulis, Co-Editor in Chief

   As a Northwest High School graduate, Jackson native Grace Latz was excited for her freshman year of college. She had chosen to go to the University of Wisconsin on an undecided major, choosing to figure out her career later. Little did she know, this choice would lead her down a path of intense training, erratic sleep schedules, and eventually, the 2016 Rio Olympics.

   In 2006, college freshman Latz was at her college’s extracurricular fair, looking for activities to do between classes. Here, she was introduced to her school’s rowing team. Having never heard of the sport before, she was intrigued and decided to take some time to learn about it.

She discovered that rowing was an intense, outdoor sport that requires a large team and early practices. She took to it immediately and found herself beginning the three week try-out process.

   Latz made a commitment to rowing and soon found herself fully indulged. She had a background in cheer, volleyball, and some track, but never before had she trained in the ways of rowing.

With three practices a day, a few hours each, six days a week, Latz felt her body changing from the extreme regimen, and she liked the way it made her feel. She stuck with the sport all through college, and while there, a friend of Latz’s pointed out her times on a rowing machine.

   “She told me that her time was good enough to qualify for the national team, and had noticed that mine qualified as well,” said Latz. “She encouraged me to try out for it.”

   Her thoughts soon shifted toward trying to be nominated for the U.S.’s national team, but it was an intimidating process. After all, there were many rowers at tryouts, some of whom were returning Olympians.

   “I knew I wasn’t the best one there. There were others who were better or just as qualified that didn’t get the spot that I did,” said Latz. “I only got the spot over the other girls by two-tenths of a second. It was crazy.”

   Once she made the team, it was the start of the most intense and difficult training she had ever done. For months, they trained almost everyday for hours at a time. They even went six entire months without a single day off.

   Although she was stressed, Latz made time to unwind between practices by joining some other girls for yoga or meditation sessions. This helped ease their tense minds as well as their muscles.

   As hard as it may be, the work paid off. Latz and her team placed fifth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

   Returning to America, she celebrated with family and friends. She now had dreams of the next Olympics. Her incredible achievement felt amazing, but physically, something was wrong.

  After consulting numerous doctors, Latz was told that she had over trained her body which meant that she could not get her resting heartbeat back to what it should be. Her body was overworking itself due to the intense training it was going through.

  As a result, Latz decided to take a year off from rowing in order to rest and repair her body.

  She is spending this time focusing on her family, visiting home, and other work she is involved in. While she is off of rowing for now, she plans on returning when she’s back to perfect health, her goal being the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.