Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda welcomes former Olympic student to their home


Claire Collins, an American Olympic rower, shared her experiences of competing in Tokyo at the Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda.

Collins grew up in McLean, Virginia, and is considered a “WES Lifer,” meaning she attended Washington Episcopal School, or WES, from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Although Collins graduated 10 years ago, teachers and staff welcomed Collins, WES’s first Olympian, like family when she visited the school on October 15.

Bill Isola, the school’s athletic director, recalled how proud he was when he watched his Olympic event. “I watched one of those races in the morning and it was a feeling of pride, just getting to know Claire, just usually just seeing her there, it was fantastic on a personal level, it was awesome, ”he said.

While in elementary school, Collins was seen as a kind and inclusive leader with everyone. She learned French, played the trumpet and participated in several sports.

It wasn’t until Collins attended high school at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts that she joined the rowing team. She eventually went to Princeton University where she studied economics, won the award for best female athlete, and began working towards a lofty goal.

“I started dreaming really big,” Collins told current WES students. “I said, ‘You know what […] I would really like to go to the Olympics. ‘ But it wasn’t going to happen overnight.

Collins told the students his dream didn’t come true overnight. It took him nine years of hard work, focus and training to reach his goal of making it to the Olympics.

Now that Collins is back in the United States, she is focusing on training for the World Rowing Championships and she is already starting to plan for the 2024 Olympics.

“So I don’t have a medal to show you, but I will have one in three years to show you,” she told the students.

Deirdre Byrne


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