Iowa rowers go global

The Iowa rowing team now has two rowers from Amsterdam in its dominant 1V8 boat.


Michael Guhin

The Iowa varsity 8 crew looks to their supporters on the shore as they row back to the dock at the end of the first session of a women’s rowing meet on Lake MacBride on Saturday April 13, 2019. Iowa won 3 out of 12 races with the varsity 8 crew winning both races for the day.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

The fact that Naomi Visser is a freshman on the Iowa rowing team competing in one of the Varsity 1 boats is unique. That she is more than 4,000 miles from home, however, is not.

Visser and junior Eve Stewart are both from Amsterdam, and they both have helped the 1V8 boat to a successful regular season. The two Hawkeyes didn’t row for the same club back home, but different clubs in Netherlands often practice together.

And when it came to deciding where Visser would go to college, Stewart helped her get connected with Iowa.

“Well, the coaches came to Amsterdam a lot to recruit people, and they came to practice, and that’s when I started talking to them,” Visser said. “I knew Eve very well, and she made me get in contact, and that’s how we started Skyping. I liked these coaches the most so that’s why I chose Iowa.”

Visser’s favorite thing about Iowa in her first year as a Hawkeye has been the campus, while her least favorite was the frigid Iowa winter.

“The weather is definitely my least favorite,” she said. “I didn’t know when I signed that the winter could be that bad. I think my favorite, I really how like the campus is because it is really different from the campuses at home. I like how everything is really close and the dorm life.”

Visser started rowing when she was 15. Rowing in the 8 boat has been an adjustment for her, because she used to compete in singles or quads in the Netherlands. The returning talent in the 1V8 has pushed her to perform at a high level.

“It’s really different, because I used to row in quads or singles at home, so it was kind of hard at the beginning to keep up with them,” Visser said. “I felt like I needed to work really hard to keep up with them, but it was good motivation. I saw the Varsity first 8, and I knew I wanted to be in there.”

Hawkeye Paige Schlapkohl, a senior in the 1V8 boat, believes Visser has been a great addition to the squad. 

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“I think she brought a fun new personality,” Schlapkohl said. “Our boat talks all the time even when we’re not at practice. We’re constantly texting, and so I think Naomi brought a fun new group atmosphere to it.”

Schlapkohl has decided it is her turn to leave the country that she was born in to attend school and row; she plans to attend Oxford Brookes University in England for graduate school and will continue rowing next year.

Visser and Schlapkohl are now focused on their first and last postseasons. Iowa will travel to Devils Lake, Wisconsin, for the Big Ten Championships on May 19.

For the tournament, the Hawkeyes have focused on improving technique and rowing together while getting that little bit of extra needed speed.

Every year that Schlapkohl has rowed, the team has improved at the Big Tens, and she hopes to continue that and leave Wisconsin with a 1V8 victory.

“Every year, we’ve improved by one, so that would be my goal,” she said. “But really, I think our boat goal is to win Big Tens this year.”