On the water the dynamic duo of Alex Tuminello ’19 and Andreana Margaritis ’19 are in effortless sync with each other as they give their all in a power 10 finish. They are the embodiment of swing, a rowing term that defines the feeling of a near-perfect synchronization of motion in the boat, enhancing both performance and speed.
As co-captains of the 2019 Prep varsity crew team, these young ladies have experienced a four-year athletic trajectory that has quickly gone from zero to one hundred. Both signed with Division 1 schools and rowed on the collegiate level— Alex with Fordham University and Andreana with Santa Clara University. The funny thing is that neither of them saw it coming—the crew bug, the wins, the challenges, or the friendship.
“When we first got to Prep, we never imagined rowing. We knew nothing about crew, regattas, or boats for that matter,” says Alex.
But a trip to nationals, during their sophomore year, sold them on crew, and they made a commitment to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the sport.
Forging new territory is never easy, and Alex and Andreana say there have been challenges with being part of Prep’s inaugural crew team. “Our freshman year we felt that the crew team was not well connected with the school. It was also tough not having upperclassmen to show us what hard work meant in rowing,” they both say. But four years later they have made progress. “Our goal as co-captains this year was to make sure we involved the sport as much as possible with the school,” Andreana says. “We are proud to see how far we have come, to see the team’s development and you see the younger kids look up to us. We think of the legacy we are leaving behind; it’s so much bigger and more powerful than what we started with freshman year,” Alex says.
In 2019, Prep’s junior varsity and varsity crew team went co-ed, another big first for these co-captains.
Alex says, “We love the change. I feel it’s created a more competitive environment, because boys and girls push each other in different ways, and it only makes the team overall stronger.”
The duo dedicates many hours to their craft. Whether they are in season or off season, in the gym or on the water their training persists. Andreana says, “We spend an average of 16 hours a week training, and that doesn’t include our weekend regattas.” “The culture and community you build with your crew mates is more powerful than other sports. I’ve played many other sports growing up, and never felt the way I do on this team,” she says. “Maybe it’s the early mornings on the water, multiple day regattas, long bus rides, or difficult workouts, but there is a lot to bond over in crew.”
Their hard work has paid off with annual wins at the top crew competition in the country — the US Rowing Youth National Championships. They duo placed 12th their first year at Nationals. The second year they got 8th. And this year they broke their record in Sarosota, Florida when they placed 6th.
Their challenges make their victories that much sweeter, considering the serious hip injury Alex suffered last year.
Andreana says, “In the Nationals time trial we placed 5th, but over the weekend we struggled with the hip injury and ended up placing 8th. But honestly that’s a HUGE accomplishment. We finished the spring season strong with basically half an athlete.”
Alex had surgery on her torn labral just three weeks after Nationals.
Alex and Andreana are equally proud of their friendship. “Sophomore year we were not friends at all. We were in completely different friend groups and barely knew each other. Yes, we were on the same team, but we were never close. Then our coach put us together, in a double boat, and after spending all that time together we became quite close.” They say that crew attracts many different types of people, and it has significantly broadened their perspectives. Alex says, “I feel like a lot of my friends on the team I wouldn’t have been friends with at Prep normally.”
Although small for their sport, this competitive duo relies on two key mantras to pull them through the challenging times: “Pain is a social construct” and “Be heavy in a head wind.” The second motivates them when the winds pick up on the water and blow around their boat. “We just imagine ourselves bigger,” says Alex.
Fordham and Santa Clara may be on opposite ends of the country, but Alex and Andreana are out to prove that their hard-earned friendship will stay the course in this larger-than-life tale.