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Clemson alumni to embark on 2,800-mile row across the Pacific

United Row // Courtesy
Former Clemson rowing members Jenny D’Anthony (left) and Anna McLean (right) will embark on a 60-day row across the Pacific Ocean in June.

Imagine the unyielding winds thrashing the ruthless Pacific Ocean waves, with no land or reprieve visible for miles. All you have to get through it is a rowboat, your partner and an unrelenting will to complete one of the most demanding physical and mental feats this world offers. Would you do it?

Both Anna McLean and Jenny D’Anthony, two former Clemson women rowers, have answered this question with a call to action. Starting on June 8, the pair will row for approximately two months straight for approximately 2,800 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean from Monterey Bay, California, to Kauai, Hawaii. The challenge is a part of the World’s Toughest Row contest, where teams compete against each other to row as fast as possible across the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

They will have nothing but the most necessary equipment to live out at sea for multiple months.

The crew is prepared to complete this challenge by taking two-hour rotating rowing shifts, as long as there are good weather and water conditions. If the conditions worsen for any reason, they will most likely not be able to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time. They must also dive into the Pacific to occasionally remove barnacles from the boat in hopes of reducing drag and finishing faster.

An estimated 10,000 burned calories a day means McLean and D’Anthony must prepare freeze-dried meals and foods with extreme caloric density to keep up with each new challenge the Pacific presents, using cold water and leaving food on the deck in the sun to heat up. This challenge is only possible with a well-stocked and well-prepared boat, and these specific items can be found on their website.

Water is the next lifeline for these rowers, and they will be equipped with a solar-powered water maker on board the boat to desalinate the ocean water and make it drinkable over the two-month quest.

This commitment sounds unbelievable to most, so why would anyone want to put themselves through something so extreme?

McLean and D’Anthony’s purpose hits close to home and comes back to their time rowing as Clemson Tigers: the Hear Her Roar Campaign. The fundraising initiative has the sole purpose of raising awareness and providing financial support for Clemson’s female student-athletes to enable the absolute best experience possible as they strive to empower them to be leaders in their jobs, families and community.

D’Anthony grew up competing in sports such as cross country, basketball and track, picking up rowing much later in life. Sparked by her love for team sports and competition, she decided to walk on to the Division I women’s crew at Clemson, not knowing much about the sport or where it would lead her.

For D’Anthony, who graduated from Clemson in 2018, earning a rowing scholarship was a game-changer.

“Without an athletic scholarship, I probably would not have been able to attend (Clemson University),” D’Anthony said. “Having that experience and having those resources and opportunities as a student-athlete impacted us both while we were at Clemson and beyond, giving us the confidence and the skills to be confident with who we were as females in science fields.”

McLean is now a technology consultant, and D’Anthony is a biomedical engineer, both working in STEM fields.

Both rowers have two very different stories when it comes to their journey. McLean started rowing at a young age as she grew up and followed in her brother’s footsteps, eventually leading the pair to row across the Atlantic Ocean in 43 days, 15 hours and 22 minutes in 2020, becoming the first brother-sister team ever to row an ocean and the fastest mixed pair. That feat will significantly help McLean in her new journey across the Pacific.

With the physical and mental preparation done, time is ticking for the 60-day row to begin. As to what will keep the pair motivated during their journey, they say everyone — including the Clemson community — has helped them. In fact, McLean and D’Anthony will return to Clemson to get all of the Tigers involved on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Freeman Hall auditorium for a lecture hosted by the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute.

“We’ve been really wanting to get the Clemson community involved,” D’Anthony said. “Our love for rowing started at Clemson; we are giving back to Clemson, so it would be super cool to get the Clemson community’s backing behind this.”

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Malone Kinard-Huisinger
Malone Kinard-Huisinger, Senior Reporter
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    JohnRobert J McGaheyMar 25, 2024 at 9:12 pm

    What an amazing undertaking..I’ll be at freeman hall at 6.