Mateo Vazquez ’21
This week’s Senior Spotlight is Claire Grigglestone, a four-year varsity athlete for the Trinity College Women’s Rowing team. Claire is from Groton, MA, a small rural town about five miles away from the New Hampshire border. Throughout her time at Trinity, Grigglestone has without a doubt made incredible accomplishments on and off the water.
On the academic side of things, Grigglestone has gone above and beyond and demonstrated her skill in the classroom. She is a chemistry major with a particular focus in organic chemistry and plans to pursue a PhD in organic chemistry upon graduating from Trinity. During her freshman year she was a Deans’ Scholar (top 25 in first-year class), and has received the Presidential Scholar Award, a Trinity merit award that grants recipients full tuition. However, the list does not stop there as Grigglestone has also gone on to be named the 2020 Goldwater Scholar, receive Chemical Rubber Company-Lisa Nestor Award for Chemistry, a Physics Department Award, the Phi Gamma Delta Prize in Mathematics, and has made the NESCAC All-Academic team three times, as well as the CRCA National Scholar Athlete twice. Additionally, she was named to the NERC All-Scholar Team.
Grigglestone also participated in rigorous summer internships, she recounted that “during the summer of 2019, I conducted research at NYU in Dirk Trauner’s lab working on the biomimetic synthesis of preuisolactone A.” This work was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a high profile chemistry journal. Grigglestone has also been a member of Professor of Chemistry Cheyenne Brindle’s research group here since her sophomore year, adding that her “research here has focused on expanding the kinetic window of extraction.” This past summer, Grigglestone had the opportunity to participate in a 10-week internship with Bristol Myers Squibb, a pharmaceuticals company that is working to conduct research for cancer therapeutics. However, because this internship was online, Grigglestone had the chance to spend a lot of time working on different fitness goals. She swam the length of her hometown lake twice, biked the Kancamagus highway through the white mountains in New Hampshire, ran three half marathons, hiked 18 out of 48 of the 4,000 feet-tall White Mountains in New Hampshire, and also started an art business, which can be found at @grigglestone_art on Instagram.
With all of these accomplishments off the water, it is no surprise that Grigglestone goes above and beyond during training on the water. She has been rowing for 11 years, as she learned to scull around the age of 10. Rowing runs in her family as both of her parents have been rowing for over 25 years, and own a few sculling boats themselves. Her parents were the first coaches she had, so you could say that rowing has always been a part of her life. However, it was not until her sophomore year of high school that she approached the idea of rowing competitively for Greater Lawrence Rowing. One of Grigglestone’s favorite things about the sport since starting has always been the camaraderie that is present in a boat or on the team. = enjoys the fact that rowers can compete against each other for a seat or in an erg, workout one minute, and then be cheering each other on and encouraging people to improve or beat you the next. This aspect of rowing, to Grigglestone, is unlike any other sport. As a highly competitive person by nature, she enjoys this environment and feels that it is constantly pushing her to improve as a rower and as a person.
Since coming to Trinity that is exactly what she has done with her career. She has been seated in the 1V for every season since fall of her freshman year. She has also been in the top Head of the Charles for the past three years, bow seat her sophomore year and a stroke seat during her first-year and junior year. In the spring, she is a member of the 1V8+. Grigglestone commented on the fact that each spring, the team has been improving and gaining better results. In the spring, Grigglestone has been a member of the 1V8+, freshman year in four seat, sophomore in five seat, and junior would’ve been six seat. Each spring we have had successively better results than the previous year and truly building the program to incredible heights.
When asked about her favorite memory, Grigglestone was taken back to her sophomore year Head of the Charles race. That particular year, there was a massive head wind and it was freezing cold in some of the worst conditions to date. She stated “I was the bow seat and I remember every bridge we went under was a huge wind tunnel and I had to have a death grip on my oar so I didn’t lose it.” She continued to expand on the memory in saying this situation “was a little tough though when I lost feeling in my hands 1k into the race. I know it sounds a bit unpleasant, but that was one of my favorite rows. It took us over 21 minutes to cover the 5k course, but it felt like it passed by in a second because we were just locked in. There was this sheer determination in all of us to put all the pieces together and lay down a quality piece.” They managed to do well as a team in securing third place that year.
Grigglestone’s journey has also seen some challenges along the way. Particularly this year, “COVID-19 has had an interesting impact on all our lives and for me it has definitely created a challenge within rowing.” Activity has also been a major part of her life and helps with time management and mental wellbeing. With the sudden end of last spring, it was difficult for Grigglestone to adjust, particularly as a senior. A looming challenge for her was rationalizing she was still training at such a high level when nothing was guaranteed, “I really struggled with this at times during the summer, but always circled back to the same thing: I don’t want to look back and wonder what could have been, I want to look back and know I gave it everything. If given the opportunity to race, I want to be prepared.”
Grigglestone continues to train rigorously daily and is anxiously awaiting a potential spring season. The never-ending drive and intensity that Grigglestone has brought to the Trinity Women’s Rowing Program is unique, and has contributed immensely to the success of the team and those around her. Grigglestone’s goals before she departs from the Trinity Rowing program are “to leave the team in a better place than when I came to school, maybe one day watch them go to NCAA.”
As a senior leader, Grigglestone also hopes to motivate her team members “to strive to succeed in whatever they do, whether it’s on the water or not.” She has no doubt done this, and gone above and beyond to put them in this position, and we are very excited to see what the spring season has to hold for her and the team.