Seamus Labrum had only one week to work with his new boat before the U.S. trials for the World Under 23 Rowing Championships.
That was long enough.
Labrum, a coxswain and Holy Spirit High School graduate, led his boat to victory in the men's four-plus-coxswain category at the trials this week, earning the right to represent the United States in Trakai, Lithuania, from July 12-15.
Labrum's boat, which won in 6 minutes, 9.627 seconds, included three of his University of Washington teammates and one rower from the U.S. Naval Academy. But only one of the Washington rowers, Garrett Rinden, was in Labrum's varsity-four boat at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships earlier this month.
Max Mannisto and Patrick Marre rowed for Washington's second varsity eight, and Alex Kornick rowed for Navy.
"Our boat was rapidly put together," Labrum, a 21-year-old Cape May Court House resident, said in a phone interview Wednesday. "But we were able to grind out a win."
This was the second trip to the trials for Labrum and Marre, who finished sixth in last year's U-23 world championships in Amsterdam. But the rest of their boat this year was new to the pressure of the trials.
"We felt pretty confident going in," said Labrum, who will be a senior next year. "We performed well under the pressure."
Boats from all over the country competed, but it was another Seattle-area boat that was the main competition for Labrum's crew. Only one gets to represent the U.S.
"It was an intense race," he said. "We knew they were going to be fast. It was a close race at times and they definitely pushed us."
Labrum has traveled all over the world to row, and he has appreciated the opportunities to see and experience different cultures.
"It is definitely neat for me," he said. "I am able to visit a lot of countries that I never thought I would go to before. It is definitely a cool experience."
Labrum's parents, William and Tracey, have supported him throughout his career - from his transfer from St. Augustine Prep to Holy Spirit, to the decision to go to college across the country.
"It's astonishing to see what he has accomplished," Tracey Labrum, Seamus' mother, said in a phone interview Wednesday. "You know how hard they work, and you want them to do well."
Labrum's parents have watched him race about twice a year in his first three college seasons - including at the IRAs, which were on the Cooper River in Camden.
"I am so proud of all his accomplishments," Tracey Labrum said.
In addition to being a top coxswain, Labrum has maintained a 3.8 grade-point average since his freshman year.
"Not only has he grown as an athlete, but as a man," his mother said. "He put his life on hold with practices twice a day. He is totally dedicated to the sport and to the school."
Labrum hopes to compete in the U-23 championships again next year. Beyond that, his focus is on graduating from college.
"I don't know if I will stick with rowing," Labrum said, "but if I am given the opportunity (to compete in the Olympics in 2016), I would definitely go for it."
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