By Steven Eggert
After four years of work, about 4,160 hours of training and six minutes of competitive rowing, Caroline Lind, ’10, was at the top of the Olympic podium.
Lind is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the women’s eight rowing, who also received an MBA from Rider in 2010. After graduating from Princeton University in 2006 and competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she went to Rider for her master’s in accounting.
“I knew that after I graduated from Princeton, I needed and wanted more of an education, and I didn’t want to stop rowing,” Lind said. “So I wanted to figure out a way to get another degree at the right time. The only time I could’ve done that was immediately following the [Beijing] Olympics if I wanted to continue on to the next Olympics.”
At the time, there were four years until the London Olympics, so Lind wanted to get the MBA as soon as possible.
“The year after the Olympics is a little more relaxed, lower pressure and [the coaches] give you a few months off,” Lind said. “I just knew that was the time, and after the Olympics, I immediately started classes.”
Meanwhile, the training for Olympic rowers is very intense. Her coach, Tom Terhaar, sets a tough schedule for his athletes so they can achieve the best performance possible.
“Building up over four years, the athletes get two to three practices a day,” Terhaar said. “The first is a long row of about 75 minutes, the second would be a shorter 60 minutes and the afternoon workout would be another 75-minute row. In terms of actual work, the athletes train for an average of 20 hours per week. Training for any endurance sport means training as often as your body can handle.”
Lind chose Rider because she was able to schedule her classes around her rowing and training events.
“Because Rider has MBA classes at night, it was pretty easy in terms of scheduling,” Lind said. “I would have a practice or two in the morning, then one in the mid-afternoon, and then go to classes at night.”
In the classroom, she wanted to be treated like any other student despite being an Olympic gold medalist.
“Honestly, the student I am, I don’t try and ask for special favors or anything, so I didn’t ask for extensions or anything like that,” Lind said. “They knew I was a rower, but I tried to let my performance in class speak for itself.”
As a result of her hectic schedule, there wasn’t much time to sleep.
“It was really the fatigue I got from not being able to sleep as much,” Lind said. “That definitely made me more vulnerable to emotional swings because I was tired. There weren’t enough hours in a day to sleep as much as I should’ve been sleeping, but I knew what I was getting into and that’s why I did it in the years that I did it.”
Terhaar would help Lind by having her train when she wasn’t in class.
“Caroline is as professional as an athlete can be,” Terhaar said. “She’s very focused so she could handle the balance of training and school. There may have been a time when Caroline needed to finish schoolwork, but because she was so experienced, she would train at a time that fit her schedule.”
Also because of her schedule, it was tough for Lind to get by financially. Like other Olympians, Lind would work part-time jobs to make some money.
“Once you make the team there’s a small segment [of funding] from the [United States Olympic Committee] I was receiving, but I also had some part time jobs,” Lind said. “There was one period of time where I was training, going to school and working part-time at Lululemon downtown in Princeton. Other than that, it was about trying to make ends meet. It’s very hard to have a full-time job and still perform at the level to make the team.”
After receiving her master’s, she focused on helping her team win the gold in the London Olympics. By August 2, Lind and her U.S. women’s eight rowing teammates had their second gold medal around their necks.
“Being on the podium — there’s nothing like it,” Lind said. “It’s pretty indescribable, but if I had to describe it, it would be a mix of so many emotions — relief, but also peacefulness, excitement, thankfulness for the people who supported me, a lot of pride in myself and my teammates, and being able to represent the country. And that’s why I came back for more — –that feeling on the podium again.”
Terhaar understood the sacrifice and discipline it takes to be an Olympic athlete.
“When you are dealing with high-performance achievers, you are less proud and more in admiration,” he said. “What Caroline and her teammates have achieved is something average people can only dream of.”
Contact Steven Eggert at