After nine years as a figure skater, Madeline Lips made a jump into the water. With a boat and an oar that is. Lips, an incoming senior at Chaparral …
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After nine years as a figure skater, Madeline Lips made a jump
into the water.
With a boat and an oar that is.
Lips, an incoming senior at Chaparral High School, has only been
rowing since her freshmen year but has earned herself a national
eye. A member of the Mile Hi Rowing Club, formerly a part of Rocky
Mountain Junior Crew, Lips has received an invitation to a
selection camp for the junior national system with the possibility
of being selected for the Junior National rowing team. Only 50 kids
in the nation received an invite to the camp this summer in
In addition, Lips finished in ninth place in the junior
women-heavyweight division of the Crash B’s indoor rowing
competition in Boston last February, among an international field,
with a time of 7 minutes, 23.6 second over a distance of
The incoming senior Wolverine started indoor rowing her freshman
year after nine years as a youth figure skater. One of her Mile Hi
Rowing Club coaches was involved with the figure skating world as
well, and Lips became connected to rowing from there.
“I was looking for a sport that wasn’t very pretty, cause that
wasn’t my thing,” Lips said. “I really liked indoor [rowing], so I
said I might as well try outdoor.”
She eventually tried out for a junior national development
system camp that same school year and was accepted based on her
rowing machine time. Lips knew she better get in the water and
train in outdoor rowing a few times before the camp. She’s been
rowing ever since.
The fall season of her sophomore year, Lips became a part of the
Colorado Junior Crew, which trained and competed at Boulder
Reservoir. She raced 4-person boat with them five days a week, four
hours out of her day.
That winter, she rowed indoor again and eventually talked to
Mile Hi head coach Grace Malacrida who invited Lips to race with
Rocky Mountain Junior Crew. On Feb. 20 of this year, Lips rowing
team formed its own outfit called the Mile Hi Rowing Club, which
trains at Cherry Creek Reservoir.
In the spring of Lips’ sophomore year, the Chaparral standout
competed in singles rowing and with two other male rowers.
“That was a good season,” Lips said. “It was a lot of singles
rowing, a lot of sculling.”
Sculling is two-oar rowing, while sweep rowing involves one oar
per person in the boat. At the collegiate level, sweep rowing is
most common, and it is what Mile Hi Rowing’s boat are training in
presently. Lips said although she likes being in a single, she
enjoys sweep very much.
Recently, Lips’ Mile Hi 8-boat qualified for junior nationals
competition this summer in Ohio, which means the training at Cherry
Creek has stepped up, 5-6 days a week. Just another event to add to
Lips’ already busy summer schedule, which includes the selection
camp and debate nationals in Oklahoma.
“A week before the selection camp, I’ll be at debate nationals,”
Lips said. “Then I come back to rest for a day before the selection
camp. It’s kind of a crazy summer.”
Given figure skating already requires a high amount of leg and
core-muscle strength, Lips said her lower body conditioning helped
when she made the switch to rowing.
“Rowing is an all-body workout. You use your core a lot. You use
your arms a lot,” Lips said. “People think it’s all arms, but a lot
of it is your legs, cause your seat actually moves, so you push off
with your feet. That’s the bulk of the stroke. You have to use
everything. I’ve definitely built up a lot more muscle since doing
Lips said figure skating has also helped her prepare for the
mental part of rowing. She describes skating as being far more
“Figure skating was really mentally crazy,” she said. “After
that, rowing is so much more awesome, cause I can just do it and
not worry about it. I don’t have a lot of mental hang-ups in
Regardless, her mental game is where she’s been putting the most
emphasis in preparation for the selection camp, Lips said; two
weeks of weeding out rowers, pushing them and seeing what they are
“That’s not going to be like anything I’ve ever done,” Lips
said. “I’m excited to be with that kind of talent.”
With her senior year on the horizon, Lips is already thinking
about college. In fact, she’s already started. As a junior, Lips is
top of her class at Chaparral and had five advanced placement
classes this past school year. In addition, she has debate, rowing
and writing for the school’s newspaper among her extra curricular
And obviously, college rowing is a big goal for her to
“That is, in my mind, the peak of my rowing career,” Lips
She said if she had her choice, she would love to row for an
eastern school because she enjoys the change of seasons. Also, for
academic reasons, she hopes to end up rowing at an ivy league
institution. Since Lips has a tendency to refuse to give up, her
goals aren’t exactly unachievable.
“I just don’t accept giving up, I guess,” she said. “Rowing is
about pushing yourself. Everything your brain is telling you goes
against what your body is doing, and you have to push through it.
It’s kind of like running or biking in that sense.”
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