By Janee Law
Eighteen-year-old Miranda Nykolyn sat in the bow seat of the eight-seater sweep boat for the U19 Junior National Rowing Team early this month, when she competed overseas in the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships.
Hosted in Trakai, Lithuania, the championship drew competitors from 53 countries. Nykolyn, of Huntington, competed in the Junior Women’s Eight event, which consisted of nine teams.
Nykolyn said she enjoyed every second of it.
“It was amazing and it was really fun to be with other girls who enjoy rowing at such a competitive level, as I do,” she said. “It was such a good experience and I feel like I improved as both a rower and a person.”
The U.S. team won the B Final against Belarus and Australia, landing the Americans in seventh place in the overall competition.
Nykolyn was invited to the selection camp for the U.S. team at Connecticut College in June. After a two-week tryout period, she was selected for the Junior Women’s Eight team, assuming the position of bow seat. From there, she was sent to the Princeton University boathouse, where they stayed and trained leading up to Worlds.
When Nykolyn learned she was chosen for the team, she said she called her parents and coach Anika Selle-Giehl, of the Long Island Rowing Club.
“I was so nervous and I didn’t think I’d ever make it in a million years,” she said, adding that this was her first time at selection camp. “When I was selected it was really exciting and I couldn’t believe it.”
Selle-Giehl, who has rowed for the German National Team, said Nykolyn was a “goofball” when she first started training her two years ago.
“She had no idea of her own potential and she didn’t know how hard she can push herself,” Selle-Giehl said, adding that Nykolyn has come a long way. “It’s not easy, but you push as much as you can every time, and that’s what she did. Now, she’s dedicated and she really developed nicely to the tremendous young woman she is right now.
“I absolutely love working with her.”
With the Long Island Rowing Club, Nykolyn typically trains twice a day, seven days a week, waking up at 5 a.m. to train before school and then returning to the water in Northport Harbor after school to practice.
Although she only rowed for Huntington’s team her freshman year, Nykolyn began rowing for the Sagamore Rowing Association before moving to the Long Island Rowing Club.
Nykolyn began rowing for the Huntington High School team when she was 14 years old.
“I’m kind of a water bug,” Nykolyn said, adding that her mother always encouraged her to pick up rowing. It’s “so intense and it’s super competitive. I’ve always been a competitive person, so it’s really fun.”
But, her favorite part about rowing is the camaraderie she shares with her teammates.
“When you’re with your teammates and you’re at the start and you’re really nervous, you just know that the girl in front of you or the girl behind you is also going to give as much as she can during the race,” Nykolyn said. “The emotion of being together and rowing at the same time is such a beautiful one so to be able to pull really hard for your teammates is really fun.”
Nykolyn graduated from Huntington High School in June as salutatorian. She was also on the high school’s varsity tennis team and was part of mathletes, the Key Club and numerous honor societies, including national, math, science, English and social studies.
She plans to attend Stanford University in the fall on a partial scholarship and study applied mathematics or management science and engineering. She will also be joining the university’s rowing team.
“Their team is really good and I want to be a really good teammate as soon as I get there,” she said. “I just want to make any positive impact I can.”