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Making a splash on top of the water

By Lynn Zahorik, courtesy photos

The Mile High Rowing Club (MHRC) is a nonprofit youth rowing program for ages 13-18 operating on the waters of Cherry Creek Reservoir in Denver. Rowing builds character and is a mental and physical discipline that helps youth thrive on the water and land.

An accomplished rower, Coach Grace Malacrida started the MHRC in 2008 with the help of parent volunteers. Since then, MHRC has emerged to become a state and national powerhouse in rowing, regularly qualifying boats for elite national competitions and advancing many rowers on to Division I rowing in college.

Though it would seem to be a disadvantage that MHRC can only practice when it is warm, this has not slowed them down when rowing against teams that can practice year-round. Each year they take athletes to the US Rowing Central Youth Championships in Oklahoma City in the spring and fall. The MHRC team often performs well at this competition, sending athletes on to compete in New Jersey in June.

The MHRC family includes many student athletes from the Castle Pines area who have enjoyed the thrills of competing at the end of an oar.

This was Cassie Dobler’s first year rowing for the MHRC. “I like that rowing gives me a total body workout and is so different than anything I have tried before,” said Cassie. She was first introduced to rowing by her big sister Jessie who rowed for MHRC for four years before attending Creighton University on a rowing scholarship.

Jack Guida trains year-round with the MHRC and works with their summer camps. He and his family appreciate the opportunity to compete alongside a collection of great kids from schools throughout the Denver area. He has traveled with the team to compete in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Kade Miller discovered rowing when he was looking for a non-contact sport to excel in after playing football and rugby. In Kade’s first race ever, his novice eight-boat team won first place at the US Rowing Central Youth Championships in Oklahoma City this May. Kade spent one week this summer furthering his rowing training at Navy Crew Camp in Annapolis.

Charlie LeMieux got his start in rowing by participating in the Stanford University “learn to row” program at the age of 12. He has been rowing for MHRC for four years. This spring season, Charlie qualified for the Junior Youth Nationals with his teammate, Josh Hankin, in the Junior Mens Varsity Pair boat. They placed 22nd in the nation. His strong performance earned him an invitation to a US Rowing Identification Camp where he trained for four weeks.

RCHS 2019 graduate Rachel Junge relishes her time on the water and is proud to say, “I am a rower.” Her talent, dedication and passion for the sport of rowing have given her the opportunity to join the coaching staff at MHRC.

Senior Audrey Manning is entering her fifth year on the team. Through the hard work and commitment required in the sport, Audrey has learned many life lessons and gained mental strength and determination in all aspects of her life. “I love how the team is committed to success and training so we are prepared for regattas,” said Audrey. “Coach Grace always challenges us to give full effort each practice and remember what we are rowing for. She is a great resource with her experience and dedication to developing the team.”

MHRC offers fall and spring rowing at Cherry Creek Reservoir and a winter training program as well. Summer learn-to-row camps are available for new rowers. To learn more about the MHRC, visit



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