Their main mission is to row across the Pacific Ocean in just 60 days. But the driving force behind the duo that is United Row is female empowerment.
Jenny D’Anthony and Anna McLean met in 2014 when they were competing on the Clemson women’s rowing team. From there, they became roommates and best friends who conditioned together at practice every day and eventual neighbors when they both moved to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2021.
After college, Jenny and Anna went on to start their careers Today, Jenny works as a biomedical engineer in Jacksonville, Florida. Anna remains in Flagstaff as an advisory consultant.
While in Arizona, Anna decided to push herself and successfully row across the Atlantic Ocean with her brother, earning two Guinness World Records in the process. She was then ready for the next big challenge: rowing the 2,800 miles from California to Hawaii. The trip would be the hardest pursuit of her life. But picking a partner up for the task was an easy choice.
“Jenny was the one person who would always ask, ‘Do you think we can row farther than coach even says we can?’” Anna says. “She’s the strongest female I know physically and mentally.”
Jenny and Anna then founded United Row in 2022. Set to begin their challenge in June 2024, the rowers wanted to embark on their journey with a personal goal in mind. Both being Clemson alumnae, they knew they wanted to give back to the community that brought them together in the first place.
The duo decided to dedicate their cause to Clemson’s Hear Her Roar. Designed to raise fundraising and awareness for women’s athletics on Clemson’s campus, Hear Her Roar was also launched in 2022 by Clemson IPTAY. As female athletes who experience encouragement through strong female coaches and teammates, Jenny and Anna knew it was the right cause for them.
“When we heard about Hear Her Roar, it was a pretty natural fit, especially knowing that women are underrepresented in sports and leadership in education,” says Jenny. “Those are things we want to change, and we want to be a part of that change, so this was the perfect opportunity to really get on board with that mission.”
Since its inception, Hear Her Roar has worked with the women’s athletic programs at Clemson to expand recruiting, build new training facilities and provide scholarships for its athletes. Jenny and Anna were unable to experience the benefits of Hear Her Roar, but know its efforts are vital for female athlete communities. Both women say that while their roots are in athletics, the complete Clemson experience goes beyond competition.
“We’re fundraising for Hear Her Roar because it gives all the girls who have that same passion that we did for sports education and leadership to be able to have that opportunity and go and get what they want,” Anna adds.
As they prepare for their journey, knowing they are rowing for a greater purpose is what gets them through the rigorous training. With June approaching, the women are in the gym every day building their strength and flexibility to row and move around the boat efficiently — even rowing in the rain at four in the morning. They take no days off.
That conditioning is necessary to be ready for the two months they will spend together on the rowboat. Potentially facing up to 60-foot waves with winds pushing them south, Anna and Jenny must be ready to battle seasickness, capsizing and rowing through the night. They will also have to know how to filter their own water and fix any equipment on board. Food is limited and high sun exposure is inevitable.
They acknowledge it may seem “a little bit crazy” to travel across the Pacific, but their Clemson Experience reinforced the idea that they are capable, no matter how hard the conditions may be.
“We are not elite athletes by any means. We’re not Olympians, we’re nothing,” Anna says. “We’re just two totally normal girls from Clemson University who met and just had this dream to go and do something even bigger with a passion.”
Thanks to their involvement with Clemson athletics, Jenny and Anna say they enjoyed many resources and opportunities that led them to become the women they are today. Shaped by their time in Tigertown, they want to encourage current student athletes and show them that living a Clemson life to its full potential today will prepare them to thrive in the future.
Whether it be a physical challenge or becoming a leader in the workforce, Hear Her Roar makes more of those experiences possible for future Tigers.
The United Row logo depicts two rowing oars detailed with the British and American flags.
With Anna’s British background and Jenny’s American upbringing, it signifies how the two came together at Clemson. In the same way, Jenny and Anna hope to unite the generations of Clemson legacies with their cause of United Row. Rowing across the Pacific for Hear Her Roar is a milestone they will achieve together as female athletes, for female athletes. United Row will launch their boat from Monterey Bay, California on June 12, 2024 and end in Kauai, Hawaii about 60 days later. Follow their journey and support their cause by visiting https://unitedrow.org/the-challenge/ here.