NORWICH – Stephen J. Winter, Ph.D., is being spotlighted as this weeks Sports Spotlight athlete for a recent rowing competition that Winters placed second in.
Winter now lives in Norwich with his wife, and two children Bruce and Margie. However, Winter, now at the age of 75, explained how his story began some 60 years ago back in New York City where he grew up.
“I have been rowing since I was a teenager, probably around 14 or 15 years old. I lived in New York City in Queens County, there is a very small community called College Point. Right next to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge,” said Winters. “Now there was a club named the Ariel Rowing Club, my father was a member of the club, he was not a rower but he played Tennis. Somehow I was attracted to rowing and I got involved. I really enjoyed it.
Following his graduation from Flushing High School in 1958, Winters decided to stay local and attended Pratt Institute. Winters eventually went on to gain his Masters and even a Doctorate degree from Rutgers University in 1971. Now equipped with an education under his belt Winters left the area for sometime.
“Ultimately after I went to graduate school and finally got a Doctorate in Engineering. After that I moved to Island of Guam, because of my love for warmer weather and the Ocean specifically,” said Winter. “When I was there I bought a ocean going version of these competition rowing shells in about 1972.
Winters love for the sport of rowing and the ocean itself that he had found as a teenager, lead him to travel and strike up a life in Guam specifically, however all throughout the Islands of Micronesia for around 35-years.
“All those years living there I was rowing, not fanatically, but I always had access to a rowing boat and I just kept at it. I would row into the City and the coast of the Islands, no trans oceanic rows, but I would venture out into the Ocean to be sure,” said Winters when explaining the experience.
Winters explained how the Islands he lived on were surrounded by a reef and some of the trips would be as long as five to ten miles at times.
“Sometimes I would load my boat up with my spear fishing gear and take the boat up to a more uninhabited part of the island and go out where the fishing was better. It was a lot of fun.”
Now some many years later and with a family in mind Winters has moved back to New York State and has made a home out of the Norwich community.
“I lived in the Federated States of Micronesia or “chuuk,” I stayed there until roughly 2007 then thats when we finally came back here (New York State),” said Winters.
As Norwich and the surrounding areas are not famously known for their rowing or water ways, Winters now age 75, has found a new way to continue his love for the sport and is a self proclaimed self and fitness enthusiast.
“I now have an indoor rower, there is one in the YMCA fitness center as well, they are used by rowing crews all over the world now, they’re very popular. Those machines are a great way to get in a good workout,” said Winters.
Winters much like he had in high school, college, and earlier years on the Islands explained his workout regimen of rowing, using the machine now, as well as running and weight training using barbells.
His time in Norwich since 2007 has lead Winters to seek some competition however, as he most recently in feb. 2016, competed at the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints, World Indoor Rowing Championships held at Boston University.
This event attracts masses of athletes from college teams, private rowing clubs as well as others like Winters.
Winters competed in the Veteran Age Group ages 75-79, and too home a second place finish with a time of 08:03.0.
“I have been aware of it for five years or so now and I have been meaning to compete. I am not a superstar by any means I am what you would call a recreational rower. I haven’t rowed competitively in around 60-years,” Winters Explained. “There were five competitors in my age group, but the guy who beat me and won, that guy was an Olympian in 1960, its amazing. That guy was fast, he was really good, he was about as tall as I am and I am still puzzling over how he went so darn fast. I could tell that he was once an elite oarsmen, something that I certainly never was. I'm just doing it because I am stubborn and keep doing it.”
Francesco Madotto, 76, was the former Olympian mentioned and in 1960 Madotto competed in the Rowing Championships in Rome. Modetto posted a time of 07:28.0, a time Winters is already planning and striving to beat next year.
“I wasn’t that far behind him, in fact I have visions of catching him next year. That about :30 seconds or so that I was off his pace though, that is very hard to improve that much. But I know I can improve a lot, because I only really trained seriously for that for about two to three months, thats nothing. So I know I can do better. I am starving for it already,” said Winters.
Winters is also an active runner each year in the Turkey trot in Norwich where he posted a second place finish this year and first place finish the year prior.
“I was a very good runner on Guam when I was there. I did a lot of distance running there, I was running probably up to 80-miles a week,” Winters Said.
Winters explained how now at his age he is a very big advocate for fitness and a healthy style of living, Winters has even taken to the paper where he has written a few books.
“I try very hard to advocate fitness and healthy living. As you look through the website it is more than trying to get people to exercise but it is more of a pitch for a lifestyle, paying attention to what you eat, exercise, and that is just not running and lifting weights, it is a balance between Cardio and Weightlifting stuff,” explained Winters.
To check out more about Stephen Winters or the Rowing event he attended you can check out the website of: kissfitnessprogram.com where some of his books and an autobiography can be found, or crash-b.org.