Adaptive rower makes waves at World Indoor Championship
After losing his right lower leg to an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq 11 years ago, Bob Kaminski was determined that nothing would hold him back.
Kaminski, 36, took that can-do spirit to the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championship regatta Feb. 12 in Boston, with positive results.
An adaptive rower, he placed second in the open men division for above-the-knee amputees.
C.R.A.S.H.-B. is an acronym for Charles Rivers All Star Has-Beens, which was created by a group of 1976-’80 U.S. Olympic and World Team rowers in the early ‘80s. Its namesake event has gown into the world indoor rowing championship.
Kaminski’s time of 3:32 at 1,000 meters on an ergometer was a personal best, about a second shy of the winning mark posted by a Hungarian rower.
“From my military experience, I’ve always had a competitive edge,” said Kaminski, who served a stint with the Marines and another with the Pennsylvania National Guard. “Being able to test my rowing skills against some of the top competitors in the world allows me to push myself in an extreme measure.
“(Placing second) just makes me come back from the event and train even harder.”
Kaminski took up rowing last March as part of the Wounded Warriors Project program at the Three Rivers Rowing Association on Washington’s Landing.
He joined the organization’s adaptive team and competed in two outdoor regattas im 2016.
Kaminski earned a free trip to C.R.A.S.H.-B. based on his performance at the Pittsburgh Indoor Rowing Championship in January. He took first place in the men’s adaptive final in 3:34.9, about two minutes ahead of silver medalist Bryan McCormick of Munhall.
McCormick (4:57.2) went on to earn gold at C.R.A.S.H.-B. in the Masters men 30-39 Arms-Shoulders category.
“In just one year, Bob has crushed the times for racing in his category,” said Samantha Finigan, Three Rivers Rowing director of outreach and adaptive coach.
Kaminski, who is 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, hopes to be invited to the Invictus Games in Toronto in September. Founded by Prince Harry, the games are an international Paralympic-style event in which wounded and sick armed services personnel and veterans take part in sports, including indoor rowing.
Kaminski practices alone and with teammates.
“I wasn’t surprised I qualified for C.R.A.S.H.-B because I train for it five days a week,” said Kaminski, who lives in Cranberry and is married father of three. “I get up at 5 a.m. and put myself through (a) rigorous workout.”
Kaminski feels at home at Three Rivers Rowing in Millvale.
“The TRRA provides two phenomenal training centers, which gives me the chance to advance in the sport through strength training, erg training and indoor training boats,” he said.
Finigan said Kaminski was among nine men and women who started rowing as part of the Wounded Warrior project.
He is one of 27 members with various physical disabilities on the adaptive team.
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributor.