They train three times a day, seven days a week.
They train at locations across the United States, but their headquarters are in Princeton.
And next month, the most elite rowers in the U.S. will represent their country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Athletes from the 12 Olympic crews gathered at Mercer County Park in West Windsor on Sunday to meet with fans, take pictures and sign autographs following a Go for the Gold 5K and Fun Run and an official announcement of the Olympic teams.
Among those heading to England are the women’s eight crew, the six-time defending world and Olympic champions. The team won gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Last month the team set a new world best time at the 2012 World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland, beating the previous record, also set by the U.S.
Six of the rowers who went to Beijing will return the Olympics this summer, including Caroline Lind, who graduated from Princeton University in 2006.
“I think (our chances are) excellent,” Lind said. “We have an amazing group of girls. We all work hard, we’re focused, we’re determined and we have a good track record. I think if we keep improving and we do our best, I think we have a really good shot.”
Four additional Princeton graduates will also row in the Olympics:
Gevvie Stone ‘07 (women’s single sculls), Sara Hendershot ‘10 (women’s pair), Robin Prendes ‘11 (lightweight men’s four) and Glenn Ochal ‘08 (men’s four).
Prendes and his team row in both Oklahoma City and in San Diego and he said rowing for four years at Princeton was excellent training.
“It prepares you for how close lightweight rowing can be,” Prendes said. “Usually in some races, the top six boats are within a second of each other. We definitely saw a lot of that in college rowing.”
This will be his first Olympics.
“It’s not as much pressure on us to do well as much as it is excitement for how well we can show the world what we do,” he said.
Hendershot is also heading to the Olympics for the first time and said she's more excited than nervous.
“I handle pressure best when I enjoy myself and have a good time and can really soak up the environment and that’s how I’m going to approach the Olympics,” she said. "I’m not going to be to ultra serious, I’m going to try to enjoy myself and race hard.”
The 14 female rowers headed to London were chosen from a group of about 25, she said.
“Unfortunately we don’t get to take everyone which is a bummer, because everyone has been working just as hard as the next girl and is just as qualified, but we can’t bring the whole group.”
USRowing is still fundraising for its trip to London, with a goal of reaching $100,000 by next month. USRowing CEO Glen Merry said rowing is a small sport that relies on smaller sponsorships and personal donations.
“These athletes are putting their lives on hold after college to represent the U.S.,” Merry said. "They might be making a stipend of $800-$1,000 a month to survive on, so it’s their families and their savings and they’re taking out loans to help keep themselves part of this sport.”
On Tuesday, Whole Foods Market on Route 1 will donate 5 percent of the daily net sales to USRowing and some of the rowers will be on hand to greet the community. The store will also host a "Giving Grill" from noon to 2 p.m., offering a grilled lunch for a $5 donation, which will go directly to USRowing.
Looking out over Mercer Lake on Sunday, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said the man-made lake on which the athletes row was created when dirt was carted away to help build sections of Route 195.
"The dirt helps you drive down the shore every weekend and now it helps send our athletes to London to win the gold," Hughes said.