Some Background on Walter:
Banfield Rows His Way To Germany
Drew Budd - The East Hampton Press and Southampton Press
It hasn’t even been three years since Walter Banfield picked up the sport of rowing, but it’s already taken him across the globe.
Banfield, a longtime summer resident of Springs, who is originally from Wake, Virginia—about an hour east of Richmond, was one of the top 15 scholastic, or high school, rowers in the country invited to the Junior National tryouts in May. He ended making the U.S. High Performance Sculling Team, which traveled to Berlin, Germany. On July 21, Banfield and three of his teammates raced three 2K heats against the German national team and took one of three races.
“They haven’t lost at Worlds in a while,” Banfield said, describing the German team. “They’re pretty good. Germany has schools where you go just to row, so all of them do that.”
Banfield was invited to the Junior National tryouts based on his resume. He most recently won the scholastic state championship as a junior for Christchurch School, the private Episcopal boarding school in Christchurch, Virginia, that he attends. But he’s also done well enough at the national level to catch the eyes of some of the national coaches.
The training camp was in Seattle and the rowers spent almost three weeks there trying out for the team and then training. The top four rowers were selected for the Junior National team, which is traveling to Bulgaria this weekend to take part in the World Championships. Banfield was part of the next group of four rowers who were selected for the High Performance team. According to Banfield, the High Performance team is selected with the idea that those rowers can perform at the World Championships the following year.
Richard Laurance, Banfield’s personal coach back in Virginia, said the young rower has the ability to make a name for himself in the sport. He said he was impressed with how well Banfield did working as a team, since he’s used to rowing in a single boat. Banfield rowed in a four-man boat in Germany.
“In the single, you don’t have to follow anybody,” he explained. “When you’re rowing in a team, everybody has to do exactly the same thing at exactly the same pace. Walter has rode in team boats before. It wasn’t like it was brand new to him, but all of the boys who were invited were used to racing in singles, they were all clocked on how fast they could make the single go. They had a few weeks to practice and Walter didn’t have any problems fitting in well.”
Laurance has been coaching Banfield since he started rowing two and a half years ago at Christchurch School, where Laurance was formerly the head coach of the rowing team. Since then, he’s become the personal coach of Banfield, basically because he appreciates how much work he puts into the sport.
“Sometimes you get people who show up and are just one of those hard workers and figures it out and that’s who Walter is,” Laurance said. “I’ve been coaching him for two and half years and he’s going to be a senior this year so we’ve got one more year together.”
Banfield’s eventual goal is to reach the World Championships with the Junior National team next year. But Laurance says that with continued hard work and improvement, Banfield could no doubt make the Olympic team in the future.
“I could see him making the team, he’s that good,” he said. “He’d probably be too young to reach the 2016 Olympics, but he could make the 2020 games if he wanted to. Most of the rowers on the Olympic team are in their mid 20s, so the 2020 Olympics would be the time to do it.
“He has to have the want to do it. No one else can make it his goal but him,” he continued. “But for next year, with the World Championships being in Lithuania, that’s where he tells me he wants to be, in Lithuania. He’s got pretty nice standards and pretty nice goals so he works pretty hard.”
Walter Banfield to row at Dartmouth
Christchurch School senior Walter Banfield, son of Doug and Nancy Banfield of Wake, has been accepted to Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., where he will row for the Dartmouth Lightweight Crew Team.
Banfield is an accomplished rower, who has earned a number of accolades and distinctions.
As a junior, he was recognized by the CCS athletic department as “Outstanding Male Rower.” In the spring of 2011, his boys varsity double scull won the Eastern VA Scholastic Rowing Championship, and then the VA Scholastic Rowing Championship. In fall of 2011, he won the boys junior single scull championship at the Occoquan Chase.
In February of 2012, Banfield won the boys lightweight event at the Hampton Roads Ergometer Championship in a field of 110, breaking the previous record by eight seconds. In April, he won the boys varsity single-scull event at the Eastern Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championship, and took fifth place for the boys Varsity Single Scull at the Scholastic Rowing Association National Championship. He was selected by the United States Rowing Association for the Junior High Performance Sculling Team, for which he spent 10 days training and racing in Germany this past summer.
This fall, Banfield won the Junior Single Scull Championship at the Occoquan Chase, as well as the Junior Single Scull Championship at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia. The Head of the Schuylkill is the second largest annual head race in the United States.
Banfield is a Headmaster’s List student at Christchurch School and he sings in the school chorale.