Sports Spotlight: Juliette Lermusiaux makes great strokes, committing to Stanford University

“Something that I really like about rowing is that you can be the top rower one week and someone can swoop in and steal your spot at any time. The competition always keeps me on my toes,” senior and Stanford University lightweight rowing commit Juliette Lermusiaux said.

With her recent commitment to Stanford University, Lermusiaux prepares for an even more competitive future in college rowing. (Photo courtesy of Juliette Lermusiaux).

Nearly four years ago, as a recent middle school graduate trying out crew through a summer camp, Lermusiaux never envisioned the defining role the sport would play in her life. Now, practicing six days a week for nine months out of the year, Lermusiaux is training for her fourth and final season with the Marin Rowing Association (MRA) before heading off to Stanford University next fall.

In late October, Lermusiaux led her team to success in the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), the world’s largest two-day regatta on the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. Placing second out of 76 teams in the women’s youth eights, this is not the first time Lermusiaux has finished on the podium at the HOCR. As a sophomore, Lermusiaux’s boat finished in third place which she continues to look back on as one of her proudest moments in her rowing career. 

“In 2018, the varsity team got tenth and all of the girls had been rowing for much longer than me,” Lermusiaux said. “Then [in 2019], I came in as a sophomore who didn’t know much about the sport and got third. We went from not placing to placing which was super exciting.”

Joining her at the HOCR this year, junior and coxswain Annie Tatum reflects on her first impression of Lermusiaux, recalling her unique competitive mentality. 

“I remember thinking, ‘this is a super skilled, talented athlete.’ She really enjoys rowing and is very passionate about it, and that’s why she’s so good,” Tatum said. “She is also super into fitness, so I think that, for her, rowing is a fun thing she gets to do every day, instead of something to dread.”

Smiling with her teammates after racing, Lermusiaux (bottom row, fourth from the right) looks forward to a season of success. (Photo courtesy of Juliette Lermusiaux).

After three months of rowing together, Tatum has come to admire Lermusiaux as a model rower and teammate. Her intensity and competitiveness strengthen the team dynamic as a whole. 

“Juliette brings pretty much no hesitation to practice. She has a mentality to go for it [and] get it done. She never loses sight of her goals and doesn’t stray from her main focus,” Tatum said. “She’s someone I look up to on the team. I strive to exemplify how she approaches competition and rowing with her teammates.”

Similar to Tatum, MRA Executive Director and varsity girls’ coach Sandy Armstrong appreciates the energy and commitment Lermusiaux brings to practice both on and off the water.

“There is no off-time for Juliette,” Armstrong said. “She comes to practice where she’s a great teammate and has fun. She’s laughing and goofing around. She does the workout, and then, on the water, her strength comes out in concentration and focus. That focus and concentration for Juliette come from this competitive desire to be the best that she can be.”

However, becoming the rower she is today was no simple task. Like many athletes, Lermusiaux struggled at times to cope with the stress of the college recruitment process amidst a junior year of online learning due to COVID-19. 

Embracing the sunny weather, the varsity girls’ boat practices on the Corte Madera Creek. (Photo courtesy of Juliette Lermusiaux).

“I would get so in my head and I couldn’t pull my numbers. I would break down crying and I felt like it was never gonna end,” Lermusiaux said. “I thought, ‘I just can’t do this.’ I didn’t really know how to get out of it either. It wasn’t like an injury where you can rest or stretch to get better, so I was kind of lost and confused.”

Through many conversations with her coaches and parents, Lermusiaux began to let go of her perfectionism and ease the pressures she put on herself. 

“Learning to accept that it is okay to have a bad day or not go above and beyond my goal every time helped me grow as an athlete,” Lermusiaux said. “I had to get over the idea that if a college didn’t want me, it was not a judgment of my work.”

With a promising academic and athletic career ahead of her at Stanford, Lermusiaux looks forward to the elevated competition that comes with collegiate rowing.

Rowing in West Sacramento in October 2021, Lermusiaux’s boat finished in first place at the Head of the Port regatta. (Photo courtesy of Juliette Lermusiaux).

“I feel like all my hard work paid off, not in the sense that it got me into a great school, but that I’ve been given the opportunity

to continue competing in the sport I love at a higher level,” Lermusiaux said. “Obviously high school rowing is competitive, but college rowing is on another level and I’m super excited to be a part of that and row against the best girls in the country.”

 

Armstrong feels similarly optimistic about Lermusiaux’s future at Stanford and is extremely excited to see her efforts come to fruition.

“She has four years of enjoyment and greatness ahead of her. She has created that environment for herself, and now she gets to just enjoy everything she has worked for,” Armstrong said.

As Lermusiaux competes in her final season, Armstrong reflects on the legacy of hard work and determination she will leave at MRA.

“[Lermusiaux] had high expectations and she raised the bar here. We’ve won multiple national championships, and the bar was already pretty high, but she just stood right up to that bar and challenged it,” Armstrong said. “Lermusiaux is an amazing, hardworking, wonderful, funny and great human being, and this boathouse is better for having her here.”