Concord-Carlisle High School and Yale graduate Margaret Hedeman is Olympics bound. Image courtesy of row2k

Olympics bound: CCHS grad Margaret Hedeman prepares to row her way to a Paris medal 

April 11, 2024

By Stephen Tobey  — Correspondent  

Margaret Hedeman, a Concord-Carlisle High School and recent Yale graduate, has achieved a lifelong goal: She’s earned a spot on the U.S. rowing team competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.  

“It definitely has not sunk in yet,” Hedeman said.  

“For now, I am just going to do what I’ve done for the past 10 years and go to practice with a love of the sport and of my friends.”  

USRowing’s selection process is longer than that of most other sports, said Hedeman, who prepares at the USRowing training center in Princeton, New Jersey. It starts with a performance in the 2023 World Rowing Championships. “Making the team in 2023 and my boat taking silver was a huge step in the process.”  

And the process is “cutthroat,” Hedeman added. “You must be mentally and physically at your best.” She said it’s also challenging to race against the teammates you have been training with for years.  

“A win for you likely means the end of their Olympic dream for this year, or even of their career,” Hedeman said.   

Margaret Hedeman, right, graduated from CCHS and Yale. Image courtesy of row2k

The World Rowing Cup II in Switzerland next month will include most of the teams that the U.S. will face in the Olympics, and Hedeman will race in the four and the eight.

For Paris in July, the coaches will determine the lineups and who’ll be in which boat. Hedeman will compete in either the eight, the event for which she won silver at the 2023 World Championships and gold at the 2022 World Under-23 Championships, or the four.   

New challenges

At Yale, where her mother Rena rowed, Hedeman helped the Bulldogs finish fifth as a team in the 2022 and 2023 NCAA championships. Her eight placed sixth in 2023. She was a first-team All-Ivy selection last year.  

“I loved Yale,” said Hedeman, who “was ready to take on new challenges” when she left high school. Being on the team gave her “structure, friendships, and purpose.”  

About midway through Hedeman’s college career, she realized she had a chance to do even bigger things after Yale.   

In 2021, when she got cut from the U23 sweep team but was given one last chance to make the team on the sculling side in the quad, she ended up making that boat. Hedeman’s coach later told her she “had what it takes” to make the senior national team, giving her the confidence to continue rowing. Hedeman’s priority was still her college team, but she began to “formulate a strategy” for making the national team.  

Hedeman is not the first CCHS graduate to take part in Olympic rowing. In 2012, Kristin Hedstrom, a 2004 alum who rowed for the University of Wisconsin, competed in the lightweight double sculls in the London Olympics. 

A good foundation 

Hedeman thinks it’s “unique” to have multiple Olympic rowers coming from the same small high school.  

She started rowing in 2014 at Community Rowing Incorporated (CRI), a program based in Brighton on the Charles River. Through the years, several CCHS student-athletes have learned the sport there.   

The foundation she received at CRI “was the most crucial part” of her rowing career, Hedeman said, adding that she “so much appreciates my coaches who taught me the proper mechanics of the rowing stroke,” something to which she attributes her lack of injuries.    

All three of Hedeman’s sisters have tackled the sport. Lizzie, her younger sister and a first year at Brown University, rowed at CRI and was on the Junior National Team last summer.  

Image courtesy of row2k

During the week off after selection camp, Hedeman visited her parents in Concord before returning to Princeton to continue training. Before Paris, Hedeman and her teammates will attend training camp in Italy.   

“Essentially, it’s lots of traveling and rowing,” Hedeman said. “I’ll also be focusing on planning for September through May.”  

In May of 2025, Hedeman will attend Bryn Mawr’s year-long post-bac premed program. Before going into medicine, however, she has some things she’d like to accomplish on the water in Paris.  

“I’ve always been pretty shy about telling people my goals, and I think that’s a defense mechanism for being scared of falling short,” she said.   

Hedeman believes the U.S. women’s team can medal in multiple categories. As for her group, the four and the eight, “the goal is to be on the podium.”  

No U.S. crew medaled in 2021 in Tokyo, she noted, “and I think we have a real possibility of turning that around in a big way this year.”