Meet the Iowa Rowing Letterwinner Who is in the 2024 Summer Olympics

By Ben Frotscher
Eve Stewart, a three-time NCAA qualifier for Hawkeye rowing, will compete in Paris next month for Great Britain’s rowing team.
Stewart rowing PHOTO: Eve Stewart was a three-time NCAA qualifier for Iowa's women's rowing team.

Eve Stewart (20BA, 21BA) has made University of Iowa history.

For the first time ever, a Hawkeye will compete in rowing at the Summer Olympics. Stewart, a native of the Netherlands and four-year Iowa letterwinner, will go for gold with Great Britain in the women’s coxed eight event in Paris.

“It doesn’t feel real yet,” says the 26-year-old. “It’s an actual dream come true—best way to describe it.”

Eve Stewart PHOTO: Jean Michel Eve Stewart

From Runner to Rower

Stewart started rowing in high school in 2015 after spending her childhood running track and field.

“I tried rowing, and it was a really special feeling for me,” she says. “Being so close to the water was incredible.”

Current Hawkeye head coach Jeff Garbutt—who led Iowa’s recruiting efforts at the time—heard about Stewart’s rowing competitions in the Netherlands and offered her a scholarship. In part because of Iowa’s strong creative writing programs, Stewart decided to become a Hawkeye—without ever visiting campus.

“I’d never been to the U.S.,” says Stewart. “I was 18, a bit naïve, and I thought I had everything figured out. Being part of an institution like Iowa as a Division I student-athlete was much bigger and more daunting than I expected. It was a huge change—going from my club that had five people my age to being on a team with 60 girls.”

She credits Garbutt, who was named head coach in 2021, for helping her adjust to America and life as a student-athlete.

“I learned so much at Iowa, and Garbutt played such a big role in my rowing career,” says Stewart. “Being so far from home was challenging, and being a collegiate athlete was equally challenging. He always told me to believe in myself, even as I was making every mistake a rower could make.”

Stewart was part of some of the most successful seasons in Iowa history. As a freshman in 2017, she earned the bow seat, which is at the front, in Iowa’s first varsity eight. Hers was the first Hawkeye boat to reach the NCAA finals in 16 years. By 2019, her junior year, Stewart and the first varsity eight boat placed ninth overall at the NCAA championships—the program’s highest NCAA finish.

“Eve is one of the most technically sound rowers to ever come through our program,” says Garbutt. “When we recruited her, she was relatively new to rowing, but her athletic ability was clear on day one.”

After graduating from Iowa, Stewart attempted to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with the Dutch rowing team. While she didn’t qualify, it wasn’t the end of her career.

Great Britain Rowing Team PHOTO: Benedict Tufnell Eve Stewart (third from right) will play a vital role in Great Britain's women's eight boat.

A Second Chance in Great Britain

A British expat, Stewart has dual citizenship in Great Britain and the Netherlands. After an injury stymied her chances of making the 2022 Dutch rowing team, Stewart decided a change of scenery was in order and moved to the United Kingdom for the summer.

In the end, that summer turned out to be so fun for Stewart that she decided to weigh her chances and try out for the Great Britain national team.

Now, as a member of Great Britain’s coxed eight boat, she will sit in seat six—which is third from the back of the boat. Stewart’s time at Iowa gave her a greater appreciation for every seat in the boat, which has helped her adapt to her spot in the Summer Olympics.

“The hardest thing to do in a 2,000-meter-race is to get all eight people moving at the same time and for 240 strokes, which is how many strokes are generally involved in a race,” says Stewart. “My job is to provide a link from seats seven and eight—individuals who provide the rhythm—and send that up the boat. When you have eight people, oars, a boat, and you’re in the water, it can be really tough to sync together.”

At the Olympics, Stewart’s team will have up to three chances to qualify for the finals—which features the top six boats. Stewart has her sights set on a gold medal, but she also knows it’s going to be a fierce battle.

“There are five or six crews that could easily win it,” says Stewart. “Even though we’re in a strong field, my goal is a gold medal. I’ve got a goal and a job to do, but I also want to really take in everything and experience it for what it’s worth, because it’ll all be over soon.”

Garbutt is thrilled to see the first Hawkeye rower ever compete in the Summer Olympics.

“I am so proud of her for sticking with it through the ups and downs,” says Garbutt. “I couldn’t be happier for Eve.”

Rowing Regimen

6 a.m. Wake up

6:10 a.m. Breakfast of overnight oats with peanut butter, yogurt, and honey

6:40 a.m. Leave home

7:15 a.m. Team meeting

7:30 a.m. Practice

9:30 a.m. Second breakfast of three poached eggs, one bagel, baked beans, and a cup of tea

11:30 a.m. Practice

1 p.m. Lunch of pasta with chicken or salmon, a side salad, and more tea

2:30 p.m. Practice

4:45 p.m. Protein shake for a snack

5 p.m. Home

6:30 p.m. Dinner of stir fry, pasta, lasagna, chicken bake, or the occasional pizza

7 p.m. Watch TV, enjoy time with flat mates, and more tea

8:30 p.m. Pack bag and unwind

9:45 p.m. Lights out

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