Interviews, Rowing

Interview with Adventurer Katie Spotz – the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic



1.If you couldn’t raise money for charities when doing these expeditions, would you continue to do them? Basically do you do it for the love of the adventure or is the whole point of it to raise money?

Adventure and supporting water charities are both deep passions of mine and I learned that there was a way to combine both passions. Some of my smaller-scale events have been purely for the love of adventure while I have also launched several campaigns purely to support charities without the adventure component.


2.You were the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic.  What made you come up with that idea and commit to it?

The idea found me when I least expected. I was on a bus in Australia and the person sitting next to me mentioned that his friend had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. I was so intrigued by the raw and elemental nature of the challenge being so far removed from the known. I had no rowing or boating experience but after completing other endurance challenges is gave me the courage to pursue it.


3.How much experience did you have rowing before you did it?

After learning about ocean rowing I joined my college rowing team for about a year and then spent lots of time training on my boat on Lake Erie. I also spent some time in California training on the Pacific Ocean.



4. Things got tough during the 2,817 mile journey; the cable that allowed you to steer with your foot broke and your GPS tracker caught fire. How did you keep yourself going when things got tough?

I had to taking things one step at a time. If I thought too far in the future I would get overwhelmed but even the biggest challenges in life can be faced one day or one moment at a time.

061709 Katie Spotz

5.How did your parents deal with it all when you told them you were going off exploring?

It was tough. They were as supportive as they could be but inevitably would prefer me to be safe at home. They understand that it’s in my nature to explore and have accepted that from time to time I venture off. It means a lot to me to have them part of the adventures. They’ve been there to cheer me on whether it be sending me off on my cycle across America or meeting me in South America to celebrate the Atlantic crossing.


6.How did you keep your energy levels up throughout the row?

The sleep deprivation was brutal. I would not be able to sleep more than a couple of hours because of the crashing waves against my boat. Music was one tool I used to pump up my energy as well as consuming a diet that matched the amount of energy I exerted.


7.At 19, you embarked on a cross-country cycle. Where is your fear?!

Whenever you do something that challenges you, there is always the risk that you won’t succeed. What has really helped me in finding the courage to embark on these journeys is not being afraid to fail. The only real failure is failing to try.


8.How long did it take you to plan the expedition?

My first cross-country expedition was with a charity called the American Lung Association. Most of the logistics were handled by the event organizers so it took me a few months to pull together the fundraising and training.
9.How many miles did you travel?

3,300 miles or about 85 miles per day.


10.Have you ever encountered any problems as a solo female traveller?

Sometimes there can be unwanted attention directed towards solo female travelers. However the majority of the time people are generally willing to help and are just curious about my travels.


11.You are the only person in history to swim the entire length of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. Where do you come up with your ideas for these challenges?

After embarking on a cycling and running adventure I knew I wanted to try a long-distance swim. The Allegheny River one of the closest major rivers from my home in Ohio. I heard about Martin Strel who swam many of the worlds longest rivers including the Amazon and wanted to see what river swimming was all about!

12.So you are a swimmer, rower and cyclist. What else can you do?!
Origami and puzzles.

13.Professional adventurer Is this what you had in mind for a career growing up?

My dream job as a kid was to be a bicycle messenger so it’s close enough.
14.What is next for you?
My focus has shifted from adventure to charity work. I am in the process of founding a nonprofit organization called Schools for Water to motivate and inspire schools in the states to help schools all around the world gain access to safe drinking water. Last year we raised more than $100,000 for water projects and to celebrate we broke a world record for the most people carrying water jugs on their heads. I would love to continue to find fun and exciting ways to get people involved in the cause.

Follow Katies journey via her website  or Twitter page: @KatieSpotz


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