Locust Valley High School senior Orlando Watson starting rowing just two years ago with the Oak Neck Rowing Academy, but quickly rose the ranks and will row for Dartmouth College in the fall. (Photos courtesy of the Locust Valley Central School District)

Locust Valley High School Senior Rows His Way Into Dartmouth

Six days a week, Locust Valley High School senior Orlando Watson is on the water in Bayville continuing his rowing pursuits. It’s something he’s done for two years, and it has led to a scholarship at the prestigious Dartmouth College.

Though it’s been a relatively quick road for the 18-year-old native of England, it has not always been as smooth as the bay water he treads so often.

“In my first regatta two years ago in upstate New York, I flipped in the first hundred meters into the cold water,” Watson said. “But I got back up and did pretty well in the next race.” At that point in March 2022, Watson had only been rowing for a few weeks, but he has come a long way since.

Watson was encouraged to begin rowing by one of his brothers because of his size. After a few times out on the water, he discovered a love for the sport and enrolled in Oak Neck Rowing Academy.

An early goal of Watson’s was to row two kilometers in six minutes and 20 seconds. In his first attempt in 2022, he rowed to a seven-minute and six second mark. From that point, Watson dropped between five and ten seconds each time, eventually getting down to six minutes and 13 seconds in 2024.

“It was stressful because I was on a deadline and wouldn’t have been recruited if I didn’t improve,” Watson said. “You’d have days where you give it your 110 percent and it wasn’t good enough and you’re like am I even right for this sport. Then you get out on the water again and you’re like this isn’t so bad.”

Watson signed his letter of intent to row at Dartmouth College in November 2023

In the two years since he started, Watson has competed at the state, national and international levels, which has seen him travel the east coast from Saratoga, New York to Sarasota, Florida.

All of Watson’s work culminated in him signing his letter of intent to row for Dartmouth in November of 2023. “When they told me the news, I was absolutely ecstatic and I was literally jumping for joy,” Watson recalled. “It felt like after working so hard, there was finally something tangible for all the labor I put in.”

—Submitted by the
Locust Valley Central School District

Just Getting Started

Kevin James Thornton’s super second act

By Amanda Olsen • May 10, 2024


Dining guide-spring
  • No events