Though today it seems nearly impossible for a World Championship-caliber rower to reach that pinnacle without the benefit of high school and collegiate development and training, once in a while an athlete breaks the mold.

In 2006, at age 26, Urusla Grobler learned to row in Greenlake, WA. That year she took on competitors from across the United States at USRowing Masters Nationals, where she placed first in the women’s 1x. For the next six years, building off stamina from her days as a triathlete, Ursula racked up an impressive list of wins, culminating in a fourth place finish at the World Championships in 2012. Along the way in 2010, she set a new lightweight women’s 2k world record at Ergomania, the Seattle Qualifier for the CRASH B World Indoor Rowing Championships. Her record time of 6:54.7 still stands today.

Ursula’s story is unique, and there are thousands of masters age women who will row, train, and race with programs this year without a glimmer of hope of reaching the World Championships or breaking world records. But Ursula, along with ladies like Sally Callahan and Ernestine Baker (record holders in the 85-89 and 90-94 age categories) are impressive motivators to commit to hard work, no matter what your age.

12 and UnderFie Udby12DEN7:30.31998
13-14Beckie Leigh14NZL7:06.12017
15-16Grace McGinley16USA6:46.12016
17-18Sofia AsoumanakiHwt18GRE6:28.22016
17-18Christine CavalloLwt17USA7:05.72013
19-29Olena BuryakHwt26UKR6:25.02015
19-29Ursula GroblerLwt29USA6:54.72010
30-39Sarah WincklessHwt31GBR6:28.82004
30-39Lisa SchlenkerLwt35USA6:56.72000
40-49Carol SkrickiHwt40USA6:48.22003
40-49Lisa SchlenkerLwt40USA7:09.62005
50-54Joanne RitchieHwt51CAN6:58.02012
50-54Joan Van BlomLwt51USA7:22.62004
55-59Anne BourliouxHwt55CAN7:10.12016
55-59Joan Van BlomLwt55USA7:30.62008
60-64Mies Bernelot MoensHwt62NED7:31.02008
60-64Susan HootenLwt62USA7:35.52015
65-69Mies Bernelot MoensHwt65NED7:43.22011
65-69Ingrid PetersenLwt67DEN7:56.72012
70-74Mies Bernelot MoensHwt70NED8:00.82016
70-74Luanne MillsLwt70USA8:12.72009
75-79Luanne MillsHwt76USA8:29.62015
75-79Luanne MillsLwt75USA8:34.72014
80-84Ruth DoellHwt81USA8:54.82008
80-84Jeanne DapranoLwt80USA9:28.32017
85-89Sally CallahanHwt85USA10:34.72015
85-89Jane WelshLwt85GBR10:25.22006
90-94Ernestine BayerLwt91USA12:07.52000
95-99Dorothy (Dottie) StewartLwt95USA14:55.32017