Kory Rogers (s), Coastal Men's Double Sculls, Next Level Rowing, United States of America, 2023 World Rowing Coastal Championships, Barletta, Italy / © Detlev Seyb / MyRowingPhoto.com

At just 21, Kory Rogers is in it for the long haul. After a Beach Sprints title and a Coastal title this year, he has his sights set on competing in the new Beach Sprint Rowing discipline at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. He is our November 2023 Rower of the Month.

You had a great 2023 season, especially towards the end of it, with the two gold medals at the Beach Sprint Finals and the Coastal Championships. What was the rest of your season like?

I’m still in college, so I had a couple of collegiate starts. I was with the team, with Marc (Oria), Christopher (Bak) and Christine (Cavallo)  down in Peru in early May. The Peruvian team hosted a race down in Lima and that one actually went really well. But besides that, no major races – most of our important stuff is at the end of the season.

The race in Lima was our Bali (World Beach Games, that was eventually cancelled) Qualifier. And Christine (Cavallo) and I won there, and stuck around for a extra week for training.

You just won the first World Rowing Coastal Championships medal for the USA. What was that like? What did that mean to you?

It meant everything because I was able to win us the race. It was really good to pass Sweden in the last 1o to 15 meters. And I’m pretty sure that was one of the closest finishes ever in an endurance race. And it just happened to be the first endurance gold medal that the U.S. has ever had. So it was really special.

Kory Rogers (b), Christine Cavallo (s), Coastal Mixed Double Sculls, United States of America, 2023 World Rowing Coastal Championships & Beach Sprint Finals, Barletta, Italy / World Rowing

Beach Sprint Rowing was recently added to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Programme. Is that something you have on your horizon?

Oh, of course. I’m still pretty young, so when 2028 rolls around, I think I’ll be 25 or 26. So I think that’s probably peak. My knees will still let me run, hopefully pretty fast. And then Chris (Bak) and I are giving it a go to 2024 next year.

How did you first get into coastal rowing?

The U.S. started competing at the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in 2021, and for me, it was honestly all through the luck of knowing Marc Oria. He is from Spain, and all the European countries have been doing coastal for much longer. He knew all about coastal, and I happened to reach out to him a couple of months before the competition, because I had qualified for a Quad for the U23 Pan American Games. In the end, I did not compete, which wasn’t great because I would have been my first crack at the national team. But it all worked out because a couple of weeks later, Marc reached out to me and was like, “Hey, we’re putting this squad together for Beach Sprints”. And I was like, “H*ll yeah! I mean, I’m about it.”

When you aren’t rowing, what does your life look like at the moment?

I recently started coaching – actually two weeks before I left for the training trip for Barletta. I coach high schoolers and eighth graders in rowing. And besides that, I’m still in school, so it takes a quite a bit of my time. And then if I’m not doing that and I’m not training, honestly, I like to play a lot of basketball.

What are your upcoming goals in rowing or in sport in general?

I definitely am striving to make that first coastal team for 2028. And from now to then pick up a few more golds if I can. I also want to perform well enough to join the national team for classic rowing if I can. Next year, I definitely want to make the Under 23 team in the quad or in a four. I think all possibilities are there for me.

Where is your favourite rowing location? Classic or coastal?

I don’t have one honestly. Barletta  has a special place in my heart now. I think Portugal (Oeiras) was special. But I think top of the list has to be Barcelona, because that’s where most of our training trips are. And there’s just something so special in that city for us, and everything we get to do there.

And Marc is a local celebrity in Barcelona. He’s lived there for so long and trained there. We can’t walk down two streets without someone random knowing who he is. It’s really cool.

If you could give a piece of advice to a rower starting out, what would it be?

Put yourself around people that know a great balance between working hard and having fun. Because some people take it way too serious and have no fun. And then some people are all about fun. And then it really becomes like a social hour. Just find your people. And when it feels like things are going to get tough, they’re going to be the ones to push you through. When you’re having a hard time, they’re going to be the ones that are going to make it fun. So it’s a really important balance. And I have luckily found people that have made it incredible since that day.

And what about advice for a classic rower who’s hesitant to try coastal rowing?

Rowing is such a niche sport… people should give it a go – especially anyone that switches over from flat water to beach sprints or endurance, even just for having a little bit of fun. Last year, Emma Twigg and all the guys from the New Zealand squad – they were just done with (classic) Worlds, and they just extended their training. Seeing how they were jumping in the boat and getting splashed on and smiling through the whole thing… It’s just all fun, with the environment, how people treat each other. It’s just incredible. It’s unmatched in anything else.

Do you have a mentor or athlete you admire?

Oh, it’s got to be  Marc. He is definitely my mentor. And if I look up to anyone, it’s got to be  Chris (Bak), because they are just two amazing people on and off the water. And really, I truly mean without them, my life would have been in a completely different place. They’ve made everything so much better for me.

What is the most memorable piece of advice that has been given to you?

Marc’s whole mantra is finding the perfect balance of making us work extremely hard. But he does it with us,  he does all these hard workouts that he prepares- the guy is 44, 45. I’m 21, I’m less than half his age and he is beating me each time. But I think what he wants us to do is understand that you can train at the highest level of the sport and still have fun and still bring people along the way with you. I think that’s something that’s so unique with Coastal because everyone’s always so nice and talkative and helpful.

I think Mark does a great job of showing that to us on the US team, and spreading it to all the other teams. He really wants us to be a prime example of that.