May 7, 2013
Written by Dominique Conley
Claira McElroy, a senior on the SMU women's rowing team, will be greatly missed; not only for athleticism and never fading persistence, but for her funny anecdotes day in and day out and her passion for the sport of rowing. Over the last four years, she has dedicated a significant amount of time, energy and heart. All of these sacrifices seemed to be worth it at the San Diego Crew classic, as she led her crew to defeat three crews. One of these crews was Kansas State, a team that SMU had recently fallen short to. Over a cup of coffee, we discussed her feelings on this race and her ever nearing future outside of rowing.
Dominique: Before you went into the finals at San Diego against Kansas State, what were your thoughts?
Claira: My thoughts were to stay calm, cool and collected. During races, my mind blanks out and I really don't think about anything, so before the race I always make sure I'm in a good mental spot.
Dominique: How did the boat as a whole feel before the race? Did you guys feel confident that you would beat them?
Claira: As a boat, we didn't go into this race with any expectations besides rowing as well and as fast as we could. When we were warming up for the race, nobody was anxious or tense, and everyone seemed to just be enjoying that fact that we were in beautiful San Diego racing. Our relaxed mindset definitely translated into speed during the race and helped us defeat Kansas State.
Dominique: What surprised you most about this race?
Claira: Beating Kansas State was the most surprising. I didn't realize that they were even in our race and to defeat a team that had beaten us two weekends prior felt really great.
Dominique: What did you do differently this race that you hadn't done previously?
Claira: Personally, I'm a very methodical person when it comes to race day, and I didn't change anything before the race. However, as a boat, we definitely went into this race with less anxiety and more excitement.
Dominique: How does it feel to be getting to go home to Miami to race for the first time in your four years here?
Claira: I'm beyond excited to be going back home to race! It'll be great to have the support of family and friends who haven't been able to travel to past regattas. My parents are also hosting a dinner after the races, and it will be really cool to show the team where I grew up and have everyone meet the family. Plus, nothing can beat the warm weather of Miami!
Dominique: How long have you been stroking the 1V?
Claira: I've stroked the 1V my freshman, sophomore and senior year.
Dominique: As a graduating senior, what do you see ahead and what do you feel that you have left behind? What is your legacy?
Claira: After I graduate, I plan on going to physical therapy graduate school. Eventually, I want to either become a pediatric physical therapist or a physical therapist for athletes. I feel that I will be leaving behind a great group of girls who I'm proud to call my teammates. Over the course of four years, I've spent more time with my teammates than my family and it will be bittersweet to graduate and leave. But, I will literally be leaving my UGG slippers to Miranda Zsigmond, who will appreciate the warmth they give during freezing morning practices. I think my legacy will be a loud one. I've never been one to shy away from the spotlight or worry about making too much noise to get a good laugh from my teammates. I also hope that people remember me for having a really good work ethic and always giving my all during my four years at SMU.
Dominique: If you could change anything about your four years here at SMU, would you?
Claira: If I could change anything about the last four years, I wish I would have explored the city of Dallas more. With school and rowing, it's very easy to get caught up in your schedule and do the same things day after day, and I think getting to know Dallas earlier on would've created a lot more adventures.