Lowell ’14 alum takes bronze at rowing world championships

Class of 2014 alum Jovanni Stefani after winning the bronze medal at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Aug. 2016. Photo by Ciara Kosai

Lowell class of 2014 alumnus Jovanni Stefani took home the bronze medal for the US National Team in the Men’s Pair Final of the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Aug. 21–28, with a time of 7:02.040. In October 2016 he was nominated for U.S. Rowing’s Fans’ Choice Collegiate Athlete of the Year Award.


Stefani and his partner Brennan Wertz began preparing for the race earlier this year in May. They trained near Hanover, New Hampshire for the U.S. 2016 Under 23 World Championship Trials, where pairs from all over the country compete in qualifying races to represent America at the international level of this competition. After Stefani and Wertz won the trial finals for pairs, they trained for another month before heading to the Netherlands for the competition.

Stefani stands at Lake Merced, where his rowing career began. Photo by Ciara Kosai

Despite being beaten by the Serbian team, who placed first, and being beaten for second place by the French team in the last 100 meters of the race, Stefani was happy with his results, and medaling was more than enough. One of Stefani’s favorite moments from that race was rowing back to the starting dock with a member of the Serbian national team instead of his partner.

During races, Stefani makes a point of talking to his partner while in the boat and wishing other competitors good luck. “The Italian team was rowing by and I was about to to tell them ‘in bocca lupo’ which means ‘good luck’ in Italian, just because the weather was so bad, and I was just having a fun time, being friendly to all my competitors,” Stefani said.

Stefani said he doesn’t put nearly as much pressure on himself as others might expect during the race. Instead, he tries to treat it like any other practice. “A lot of rowers will say, ‘All of your training, every single thing that you’ve done is going to come down to these seven minutes, you trained three months for these seven minutes,’” Stefani said. “But I’m not like that, because I think it’s that growing process.”

“I was just having a fun time, being friendly to all my competitors.”

Stefani began his rowing career in his freshman year of high school after seeing boats of rowers on Lake Merced. “[I liked] just how elegant it was, rowing on the water,” Stefani said.

After that, he began rowing with Pacific Rowing Club (PRC), a youth rowing program based out on Lake Merced. Stefani says that becoming an accomplished athlete was a “really gradual process.” He went through a series of improvements and achievements, like making top boat at PRC, being recruited by Stanford, winning at Nationals and finally taking bronze at worlds.

One day, Stefani hopes to make the U.S. Olympic rowing team.Yet, much like his past races, Stefani isn’t rowing with the sole goal of making it into the Olympics but rather to, dedicate his time towards “being the best athlete” he can be.