TPHS graduate earns spot on Olympic rowing team


Kerry Simmonds, a 2007 graduate of Torrey Pines High School, is heading to Rio de Janeiro as a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Eight Rowing Team.

This is the first Olympics for Simmonds. She has represented the USA in international competition during each of the last four years, winning gold medals in the Women’s Eight at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, and a silver medal in the Women’s Pair at the 2014 World Championships.

The chance to represent the USA at the Olympics gives Simmonds “chills” and she still finds it surreal that she is going to Rio.

“I am deeply honored and extremely grateful for the opportunity because I know there are very talented and fit women that I have been training alongside for the past few years that, in the end, did not get selected. This has been the goal of mine since 2011 when I first joined the U.S. Training Center group in Princeton after graduating college,” Simmonds said. “To finally get to this point, that for so long was such a distant goal, is an incredible feeling… a mixture of relief, joy and serious motivation to be as prepared as I can be to have the best performance in Rio.”

Growing up, Simmonds attended Carmel Creek Elementary School in Carmel Valley and loved playing a variety of sports, including recreation league and club soccer with the Del Mar Sharks. At Torrey Pines High School, she played varsity basketball, and ran cross country and track.

She didn’t try rowing until arriving at the University of Washingon — Simmonds’ combination of height (6 feet), strength and endurance proved advantageous in the sport.

Simmonds was a walk-on for the Huskies and later earned a full athletic scholarship and was named team captain. After graduating from the University of Washington in 2011 with a degree in biology, she continued her rowing career by training full-time with the U.S. national team, based in Princeton, New Jersey. During the winter months, the team has trained at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

Simmonds said that this past year was one of the “toughest, most roller coaster year of training” she has ever experienced, mostly related to injuries.

“To be able to overcome that mental and physical stress, work my way back into the group and end the year on such a positive is an amazing feeling and I feel very blessed,” Simmonds said.

Her parents, Steve and Karyn Simmonds, are proud to see that their daughter’s hard work and dedication have led to a spot on the Olympic team, saying that “Kerry has always been a winner at heart”.

The U.S. women’s rowing team has earned several medals in recent World Championships, and will be a strong contender in multiple events at the Rio Olympics. The U.S. Women’s Eight has won gold medals at Olympics and World Championships for 10 straight years.

Olympic rowing heat races begin in Rio on Aug. 6. The finals of the Women’s Eight race are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13.

Simmonds said her focus now is on the team’s big task at hand: “Working hard, staying healthy and bringing home medals, preferably the golden kind.”