Hot Seat: Karen Agersborg

Karen Agersborg strokes Vesper's Club C 4x at USRowing Masters Nationals, 2015.
Karen Agersborg strokes Vesper's Club C 4x at USRowing Masters Nationals, 2015.
Karen Agersborg, a member of Penn AC since 1980, has decades of rowing experience under her belt, including a run at the 1988 US National Team. Her masters career has been extremely successful, finding wins in both sweeps and sculls. Karen missed out on the 2016 USRowing Masters Nationals due to a battle with cancer, but today is cancer free, and at 54 years old, is very happy to be back on the water.

The basics: Married, kids, jobs, pets?

I am a Clinical Endocrinologist which is a sub-speciality of Internal Medicine. I treat Diabetes, Thyroid disorders, metabolic disorders, etc. My kids are two furry English Springer Spaniels: Alexander James (son of 2007 Westminster champ James), affectionally know as Alex; and Kathryn Elizabeth, aka Lizzie, who is an agility Springer.

How did you get involved with rowing? 

I started rowing Fall of 1980 at the University of Tennessee; then four years at Villanova, and one year at Bryn Mawr College.

How has rowing changed you?

Rowing has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Through this sport, I’ve met the most amazing people like Joan Van Blom (two time Olympic silver medalist, and the first woman to ever win a rowing medal for the United States at the Olympics), Ted Nash (two-time Olympic medallist in the coxless four), my Penn AC team, etc. At Bryn Mawr, I met a gal from Australia who saw me wearing my rowing t-shirts and asked me to help her start a team! It thrives today.

If anything, rowing has taught me patience; and I continue to strive for the best technique. Most of all, I love being in a boat out on the water. There is so much around us! The sounds, the smells, the animals, and the other rowers.

Do you prefer sprints or head races? Why?

I prefer head races. I’m an endurance athlete. I also like racing in cooler weather.

What is your most memorable race?

My favorite race was The 50th anniversary Head of the Charles (2014). I had the privilege of rowing with Longbeach Rowing Association. Joan Von Blom was in the boat and we won the 50+ W8 by 0.333 seconds!

Have you ever caught an ejector crab?

Never caught a crab knock on wood (preferably a Pocock), but the weeds almost got me the other day!

What’s your guilty pleasure after a regatta?

Sleep. As boring as that sounds, it’s true!

Who/what inspires you?

The people who inspire me are the people who get out there everyday like Sabina Louise Perice (rower and professional photographer. We text each other in the morning and push each other.

But, Joan Van Blom received chemotherapy the day before our HOCR win; and I never saw her without a smile. This sport has some amazing people.

I’d like to mention Jim Hana (former Georgetown University rower and current Dad Vail Regatta Board member) who always treats others with respect and is a very special kind of person.

I could go on and on here.

When not rowing, what’s your favorite thing to do?

When I’m not rowing, I’m running around with my Springers or involved in some art project. I look forward to the days I don’t have to work for a living and can travel more to race.

What’s the best piece of rowing/training advice you ever received?

Ted Nash gave me one of the most inspiring pieces of advice: Treat your fellow rowers with respect. It’s not always easy when someone yells “Single!” with 20 meters to correct your course!