Brian O'Leary '23 isn't part of a Varsity sports program, but he may be Jesuit High School's most internationally accomplished athlete.
O'Leary has emerged the past two years as one of America's top youth rowers. In particular, he has established himself in the rapidly growing discipline of coastal rowing.
In 2021, O'Leary was named U.S. Rowing's Beach Sprint National Team Male Athlete of the Year after earning a silver medal at the world championships, and 2022 was another banner year for O'Leary. In October, he represented the U.S. for the second time at a global competition, the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Wales.
Up against the best youth rowers from around the world, O'Leary placed 3rd in the Junior Men's Single, earning the bronze medal. In the Junior Mixed Double with teammate Britt Wotovich, O'Leary earned 4th.
"I am honored to wear USA across my chest and to represent my country at the highest level," O'Leary said. "Competing for the second year as a junior rower in a world championship is a great experience."
The bronze medal was O'Leary's second at worlds. In 2021 at the World Championship in Portugal, O'Leary and Wotovich won silver.
Coastal rowing is a thorough test of skills and acumen, and it is emerging worldwide as a popular discipline. Considered more rugged and extreme, it involves rowing along a coastline in choppy waters. O'Leary has been competing for the U.S. in Beach Sprints, a variation that requires additional techniques such as navigating waves, making turns around buoys, getting in and out of the boat, and sprinting across the sand.
"Coastal rowing as a whole is very different from flat-water rowing - it is unpredictable, unforgiving, and unconventional," O'Leary said. "However, it is quickly gaining popularity because of its greater appeal to spectators outside the rowing community."
In Wales, in the Junior Men's Single, O'Leary's time trial seeded him in the Top 16. He then defeated a rower from Portugal and then one from Egypt to advance to the semifinal, where he lost to Great Britain. In the Bronze medal race, O'Leary defeated the competitor from France to earn the medal and place on the podium.
In the double, the U.S. mixed team of O'Leary-Wotovich defeated a pair from Ireland and then the Netherlands to reach the semifinal, but they lost to Italy and Tunisia to just miss the medal.
The first World Championships for coastal rowing was in 2019 in China, and it is expected to be added to the list of 2028 Olympic events.
"To be exposed to the highest-achieving athletes on the planet, that gives me perspective and motivation to get to where I want to be," O'Leary said. "I currently hold two world medals, and I hope that there are more to come in the future."
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