Old Lyme's Corrigan has quite the summer vacation story to tell

Liam Corrigan is going to have some unique stories to share with his Old Lyme High School friends when summer vacation ends.

Corrigan, who will be a senior this fall, has spent this month training with the U.S. Junior National rowing team in Princeton, N.J.

The team leaves Wednesday for Hamburg, Germany to represent America at next week's World Junior Rowing Championship. After that ends, Corrigan and Benjamin Cohen head to Nanjing, China to participate in the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

It all sure beats having to get a summer job.

"There are a few days when I regret not being able sleep in my own bed or see my friends," Corrigan said during a recent phone interview from his training camp. "But I'm definitely very glad I'm doing this."

Rowing was a foreign concept to Corrigan when Louis Zubek began trying to recruit him his freshman year. Corrigan plays basketball, and Zubek is Old Lyme's junior varsity coach as well as the school's varsity crew coach.

"You kind of have to be a tall guy (to row)," the 6-foot-5 Corrigan said. "I have the build for that. That particular year, he needed another rower, and all winter long he was kind of pushing me ... 'Liam, you have to come out for the crew team. There's lots of opportunities for you.'"

Corrigan gave rowing a shot the spring of his freshman year and, to his surprise, came to enjoy it.

"I'll be honest with you - it's not the easiest sell," he said. "The sport itself doesn't seem that fun. You go in the boat. You do the same thing over-and-over again. Coming from basketball where it's very involved and you're always moving ... with all the strategy in basketball, crew sounds boring and a lot of hard work.

"I wasn't on board right away. It took (Zubek) a few weeks to convince me to come out. Once I tried it and found out I was good at it, that helped."

Rowing has taken up much of Corrigan's time even before the summer began. First he had to attend one of several national tryouts, from which he was chosen to attend the U.S. Junior National Team selection camp in June. He was tabbed to be part of the men's eight team.

The rowers who made the cut were told they had a chance to attend the Summer Youth Olympic Games. Corrigan and Cohen were named to the United State's men's pairs team, and Corrigan will be Connecticut's lone representative.

"Admittedly, a number of guys couldn't go because college starts (in late August) and the Games end on the 28th (of August)," Corrigan said. "There's a few that couldn't miss the first week of college. There were also a few who weren't interested. That kind of seemed strange to me.

"I had heard about (the Games), and I really wanted to do it. It sounded like a really cool experience and I was really excited to do it. I've never been anywhere like that. I take Chinese at school, so it just sounded like a really cool opportunity."

The Junior Championships will be held August 6-10. Corrigan and Cohen will spend a few days after in Hamburg, then fly to Shanghai and take a three-hour bus ride to Nanjing. The Games run from Aug. 16-28.

"I'm just lucky enough to have this opportunity," Corrigan said. "It happens every four years, and this is the year that it happens."

n.griffen@theday.com

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