Caroline Queen started kayaking in a summer camp at the age of nine. At 12, she was racing competitively and by 20 she traveled with Team USA to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The Darnestown, MD-native describes herself as just being “at the right place at the right time.”
Though Queen didn’t quite make it far enough to medal in London, she already has her eyes on the Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
“I was really not sure going into these games, but having experienced it I can understand why athletes dedicate so much time in pursuit of the Olympic games,” Queen told Patch. “I think I would like to give it another go.”
Queen will be heading to North Carolina soon to go on a vacation with her mother before starting school again at Davidson College in Charlotte, but the Olympic experience is something that will stay with her.
“It was very cool,” Queen said. “It was pretty much exciting from the day that I qualified and continues to be exciting today.”
Patch sat down to ask Queen a few questions about her experience at the 2012 Olympics. Check out our Q&A below:
What sort of support did you have heading in to the Olympics?
CQ: I had a number of family members, supporters from the area. There were 10 of us total and most of them from the Darnestown/North Potomac area. The hotel they stayed at was pretty close to the venue which was convenient for them. I was at the Olympic Village the whole time, so I was a little bit further away.
Did you have the opportunity to interact with the other athletes?
CQ: That was a really cool part about staying at the village. You met a lot of new people from Team USA who were living in the same area, and I also got to know some of the people who participate in my sport a little bit better since we’re all in the same place.
I think I got to hang out a little bit more with my roommates who were divers and one field hockey player. In general it’s such a big mix of people.
What did you enjoy most about London? Was there an opportunity to see the sights?
CQ: There was definitely some down time. We had opportunities to train up to twice a day and many times we did, but the days that we did take off or just do one workout we were pretty busy. We were doing some media thing leading up to the race, but afterwards I definitely got to enjoy London.
We were training in the UK for at least 5 or 6 weeks out of the past three months. I got a really great UK experience on a whole. It was definitely a really cool cultural experience.
My family and I got to go to two theater productions. One was “Spamalot” and the other was “Rock of Ages” – both of those were really good. The whole city is gorgeous and the people were really excited about the games, so it’s always a warm welcome.
What was your favorite part of the Olympics on a whole?
CQ: I think spirit of the competition is definitly one of them. While it was, of course, intense competition, I think, particularly in my sport, everyone was there to celebrate the Olympics and I think that’s a critical part of the games so I was glad everyone came in with that attitude.
Are you training now, or taking time to relax?
CQ: I’m definitely getting out on the water just because it’s fun, I enjoy it, and I also miss some aspects of the Potomac River when I’m training in Charlotte. Our facility [in Charlotte] is an artificial course, which is quite a bit different from [what you find] in the Great Falls region. It is time to get back out there.
What are your favorite spots on the Potomac?
CQ: There are a couple good spots. Probably the just-for-fun area that I would paddle is the set of rapids just below Great Falls. There are a lot of fun little surfing areas and it’s really scenic, too.
Do you have an advice for those looking to follow in your footsteps?
CQ: There are a lot of great summer camps where you can get started and obviously get all the way to the Olympics if you’d like. There are a lot of really great instruction organizations in this area, so it doesn’t take more than a couple of clicks around Google to make arrangements to get out there.