Molly Reckford, who grew up in the Glenwood section of Millburn, is competing to be an Olympic lightweight rower in this summer’s Tokyo competitions. Her grandfather participated in the Olympics twice and was a longtime Olympic coach.
Reckford shared, “My partner, Michelle Sechser (Folsom, CA), and I won the USA Team Trials in the Women's Lightweight Double (LW2x) event in February in Sarasota, Florida.” She continued,” The USA does not have a qualified spot in the Olympics yet (only a limited number of countries are allowed to enter the event).”
She and Sechser will travel to Lucerne, Switzerland in May to compete at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta held there from May 15 to 17 and will qualify for the Olympics if they place top two.
The duo placed second in the Olympic Trials II in Princeton last week. They entered in order to practice "racing really fast boats" and were entered in the open weight Women's 2x event. The winners of the event, Dr. Gevvie Stone and Kristina Wagner, have been named to the USA Olympic team in the open weight category.
Reckford was always athletic and played soccer and Little League baseball in Millburn. She also ran track and rode horses. Reckford attended Phillips-Exeter Academy where she continued running track and discovered rowing. She enjoyed rowing so much that she rowed throughout college.
She explained her favorite aspects of rowing. “I liked rowing because my height was an advantage, and I loved the intensity and teamwork of the sport. It was also a great way to get outside.”
She added, “I fell in love with sculling in the single scull (1x) at Nereid Boat Club (Rutherford) over the summers in college, and that was what brought me to the National Team.”
Reckford has been a full-time athlete since October 2019. Her cross-training includes swimming, running and road biking. When not consumed with training, she enjoys reading, cross-country skiing, cooking and traveling.
She revealed, “I’ve wanted to be an Olympian for as long as I have known what the Olympics are.” She attended the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 when she was 3 years old. Her grandfather was part of the Olympic Torch relay that year.
When asked what it feels like to be so close to qualifying for the Olympics she responded, “Some days it feels like it's just what I do, and other days it is overwhelming. The process of getting faster and finding higher levels of competition is a spectrum, so there wasn't really a moment when I was suddenly racing elite athletes. It was a slow crescendo that built over the last three years.”
An example of the slow crescendo occurred last week when Reckford raced with two of her mentors who had helped her when she began rowing at the Olympic trials. She was excited and a bit surprised to find herself rowing as fast as they did.
Competing in Lucerne is the last step toward achieving her dream. Reckford is eager for the regatta. “I’m excited to race at the international level in this boat class. That will be a new experience, so I can't yet say what it will feel like. If it is anything like racing trials, it will be amazing!”