Usually, athletes train all their life to go to the Olympics.

But Tom Peszek has only been training eight years, and he’s headed to London this summer. With a partner he’s only been competing with for a few months.

The former Michigan rower and his partner, Silas Stafford, recently won the men’s pair event in West Windsor, N.J. to qualify for the 2012 Summer Games.

“It’s awesome, it’s quite a thrill,” Peszek said.

After starting out in second place after a quick jump off the line, Peszek and Stafford fought off a tough headwind to take the lead.

“It was a pretty good race — it was long,” Peszek said. “We had a strong headwind, so it was one of the longest races I’ve ever had.

“(But) it was relatively simple, we just went out, got up early, and stayed ahead.”

Peszek and Stafford beat out a few other boats for the victory, and clinched a spot on the national team to represent the United States in London in a couple of months.

But their win didn’t come that easy.

Peszek originally tried out for national team’s eight-man crew, but things didn’t work out in his favor. That’s how he and Stafford decided to become partners.

“We were both the last guys not selected, so pretty much right after that, we went to the pair and picked up right from there,” Peszek said. “Silas and I started rowing as a pair a few months ago, but we’ve known each other since 2007. We were on the under-23 U.S. National Team, so we go way back, but this is the first time we’ve raced as a pair.”

New things don’t seem to be a problem for Peszek, though — he just started rowing when he came to Michigan, after deciding to join a club sports team to keep in shape. He wasn’t even sure that rowing was a serious sport until he joined the Wolverines’ club team.

“It kinda just slowly took over my life, in a good way,” Peszek said. “I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.”

Despite the club sport status of the men’s rowing team — the women’s squad is a varsity sport at Michigan — they still take racing very seriously.

During his time at Michigan, Peszek mentioned that beating Wisconsin and Cornell, two of the bigger varsity programs, were some of the greatest moments of his career at Michigan. He also said that the squad competes against anybody and everybody, from top varsity teams to other club squads.

“It’s run by the students, (so) you have to pay dues and do all sorts of fundraisers to keep the club alive and kicking, but at the same time we’ll race anybody,” Peszek said. “We’ll race better varsity programs, other club programs — it doesn’t really matter. And I’ve always loved the fact that being a club program was never an excuse. We’ve never walked away from anything.”

That mentality has surely helped Peszek get to where he is today. He noted that all of his coaches have helped him become a better rower throughout the years — especially his current coach, a former Olympian.

“I’m fortunate enough to be coached right now by Bryan Volpenhein, who won the Olympics back in 2004 (and) set the world record in the process,” Peszek said. “He knows what he’s doing and he’s been a big help.”

Does Peszek think being coached by a former gold medalist comes with high expectations?

“(Silas and I) don’t really have much for expectations,” he said. “We feel like we can go out and beat anybody, just about. We’re looking forward to it because we don’t know how we’re going to stack up, so we’re really excited to see what we can get.”

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