Student Spotlight- Mikaela Voinov

Whether you know her as a friend, family member, or peer, everyone knows Mikaela Voinov as someone to look up to. Not only is she kind and insanely intelligent, but she is an incredibly hard worker who has earned herself a spot on Duke University’s 2027 women’s rowing team. Throughout all of her school years, Mikaela has been nothing but a great friend to all around her, and is always the kindest and most dependable person in the room. She always gives a lending hand to those in need and steps up to any type of challenge, whether school-related or personal. She started high school by taking a challenging course load and competing as a star athlete. Not for rowing, though: she started as a phenomenal soccer player, a fantastic swimmer, and a team-valued lacrosse player. After discovering her rowing passion in September of her junior year she had to, unfortunately, end her soccer and lacrosse career. It was not for nothing, though, as she was able to break her club’s personal women’s rowing PR record just two months after she started up the extremely competitive and exhausting sport. She practices 25 minutes away, for three hours every day, and only gets a two-week break the entire year. If anyone deserves to be recognized and go to such a prestigious school, it’s Mikaela. With beauty, brains, athleticism, and great character, Mikaela Voinov is the full package. 

  1. How did you decide to start rowing?  

One of my friends who I lifeguard with during the summer rows crew in college, and he encouraged me to try it out because he thought I would be a good fit for the sport. During the summer of my junior year, I completed a few of the tests usually used for college recruiting. My times were pretty competitive and I decided to visit the club I row at now (Nereid Boat Club in Rutherford). I knew almost immediately it was something I was going to love.

  1. What was your experience like when you first started rowing? 

My experience when I first started rowing was very different from any sport I had played before. So much emphasis was placed not only on the physical aspect but on the mental aspect as well. The training was definitely difficult but I think my athletic background helped me a lot. Something that also made the sport easier for me was my previous experience rowing the lifeguard boats. Though the motion is different, I was so much more comfortable in the crew shell because of it. The biggest difference I think though is the combination of the physical challenge and team unity. In order to be successful, you have to keep your movement completely in unison while pushing yourself to your limit. Though this was an adjustment, it has come to be one of the things I love most about the sport because it creates such a sense of community and trust within the team.

  1. What motivates you to keep training every day? 

There are a few different things that keep me motivated throughout the year. We train all year round so we have larger races each season. In the fall, our large race is Head of the Charles in Boston, which my boat actually won. This win meant so much and really motivated everyone going into the winter season, as it made us really favored for the spring. In the spring, our larger races are Mid-Atlantic Regionals in May, Nationals in early June, and this year my boat has the chance to race at the Henley Regatta in London at the end of June. Having the opportunity to race in these races keeps me motivated to stress the details of each practice leading up to this season. Other than races, my team is my biggest motivation. I love this sport so much and getting to be on the water training with my best friends every day is something I’m so grateful for. Rowing builds such an amazing team atmosphere and seeing how hard everyone works for the greater good of the team is so motivating. I am also rowing in college at Duke and working to be as prepared as I can to be able to race in ACCs and NCAAs my freshman year is a huge personal motivator.