It was a rough Saturday morning for Canadian rower Carling Zeeman, but she still got the job done.
High winds caused choppy conditions at Lagoa Stadium, but Zeeman’s time of eight minutes, 41.12 seconds was good enough to win her heat and qualify for Tuesday’s quarterfinals in women’s single sculls.
For comparison’s sake, Zeeman posted a gold-medal-winning time of seven minutes, 49.41 seconds at a World Cup event in Italy earlier this year.
The 25-year-old from Cambridge, Ont. had the slowest time of the six heat winners on Saturday, but the conditions appeared to cause problems for all of the competitors.
“It was intense,” said Egypt’s Nadia Negm, who finished third in Zeeman’s heat. “Halfway through the course this huge wave went in my boat. It went all the way up to my face.
“I mean, I’m lucky I didn’t tip over.”
The fastest time of the day was posted by Kenia Lechuga Alanis of Mexico, who won Heat 1 in eight minutes, 11.44 seconds. But that’s still way off the Olympic record of seven minutes, 18.12 seconds, set by Katrin Rutschow of Germany at Athens 2004.
Lechuga Alanis could be a direct opponent for Zeeman in the quarterfinals, though the Canadian said she’s only going to be thinking about what she can control.
“It’s important to focus on myself and stay within the boat,” Zeeman said after Saturday’s heat. “As soon as the draw comes out, I acknowledge it (and) see who’s in my race. But after that, it’s important to focus on me.”