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Q&A With Former Aberdeen Dad Vail Champion Who Won at the 2012 Olympic Game Trials
Clara Lefton 
Communications Director 
Philadelphia, Pa., March 19, 2013 – Sarah Zelenka began her rowing career in 2005, during her first year at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. Having been a basketball player throughout middle and high school, she decided to take on a new challenge in college and was “hooked pretty much on rowing right away,” she said. 
During her time competing at the Dad Vail, she won three silver and one gold medal in the women’s varsity heavyweight eight. After her college career ended, Zelenka moved on to compete on the National Team. At the end of July 2012 she won the women’s pair 2012 Olympic Games trials with her partner Sara Hendershot. During the 2012 Olympic Games she went on to finish in fourth place in the event. She was one of three women on the team who competed at an NCAA Division II or III, or club level, while all other participants were out of Division I programs.  
Question: Why do you consider the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta as your all-time favorite collegiate regatta? 
From the moment I started rowing at Grand Valley all I heard about was, ‘Dad Vails.’ It was what we would say at the breakdown of each practice, ‘Vails!’ It was known from the moment you started rowing that you were doing it mainly for that one race. It was the regatta we trained for the whole year to win; the championship race for club teams. The atmosphere of the regatta alone just made you feel like, ‘Oh, this is what rowing is,’ with the huge crowd in the grandstands, the famous boathouse row, all different teams of all sizes, tons of coaches on bikes, and all those betting shirts! (Photo: Sarah Zelenka with Natalie Dell and Meghan Musnicki) 
I remember being so nervous and thinking that if we didn't win it was the end of the world. We won silver in the women's varsity 8+ for three years in a row in the DII event, and my senior year we decided to row up in the DI event where we finally got the gold. At that time, to me, that was the best and most memorable moment of my rowing career. That's why the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta was my favorite college regatta. 
Q. What was it like winning the pair at the 2012 Olympic Trials? 
Winning the pair at the 2012 Olympic Trials, at this point in my career, was the best and most memorable moment I have from rowing. It was the moment I realized my dream had become a reality. I had clenched a seat in a boat that was to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games. At first I was full of shock and disbelief, then I had an overwhelming sense of relief, and excitement. It was an amazing race and one of the best days of my life 
Q. Since the 2012 Olympic Games, are you still interested in being a member of the National Team? 
Since the Olympics I have still been training pretty intensely. I am coaching at the University of Louisville right now trying to balance a new job, training, and now wedding planning, so it gets to be hectic at times, but I love rowing and Rio 2016 is definitely on my mind. 
Q. Do you have any hobbies outside of rowing? 
Between the balancing act of my three main priorities I don't have too much time for hobbies. Although if you include CrossFit and boxing as hobbies and not part of my rowing training, you can add that to the list! 
Photo credits:  
Photo of Sarah Zelenka with Natalie Dell and Meghan Musnicki: © 2012 Sarah Zelenka.
About Aberdeen Asset Management: 
Aberdeen Asset Management PLC (Aberdeen) is an asset management group, which invests as a traditional, fundamental investor on behalf of institutional clients, advisers and individuals globally across all major asset classes. Aberdeen has assets under management of approximately $314.3 billion (as of December 31, 2012). Aberdeen was established via a management buyout in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1983, and today, operates in 23 countries around the world, employing over 2,000 staff. Aberdeen champions first-hand research and believes close teamwork is the best means to discover investments for their clients’ portfolios. Aberdeen is involved in sponsorships in which it can actively get involved and make a difference through an event, individual or team. Aberdeen’s current sponsorship portfolio includes both amateur and professional properties across a number of sports including, golf, sailing, rugby, field hockey and rowing. Aberdeen is also involved with a number of cultural and arts sponsorships. 
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Content reviewed and published: 3/27/2013 8:55:24 AM
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