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The Penn women's rowing team garnered victories in the varsity 8+, varsity 4+, and second varsity 8+ against Saint Joseph's. The race took place on the Schuylkill River. In photo: The Penn women's rowing varisty 4+ A and B teams in action. The Penn A and B teams came in Penn A 7:20.0; Penn B 7:28.8; and Saint Joseph Credit: Alvin Loke

Penn women’s rowing’s dynamic duo is getting set to hit the international stage.

Twin sisters Elizabeth and Rebecca Donald emerged victorious in double sculls at the under-23 World Championships Trials in West Windsor, N.J., in June, earning them a spot in the 2010 World Rowing Under-23 Championships, to be held in Brest, Belarus from July 22-25.

Although each of the Falmouth, Mass., natives’ rowing careers at Penn has been filled with success, this will be the first time they compete on an international level.

“It really is great to see a thing like this,” Penn women’s rowing coach Mike Lane said. “For [the twins] to be representing not only our school, but our nation as well, it must be a great honor for them.”

The Donalds, who could not be reached for comment as they left Boston for Europe a week ago, won their 2,000-meter trial race with a time of 7:16.7, edging USRowing U23 Selection Camp’s Victoria Opitz and Hilary Andrus, who clocked in at 7:24.1.

The sisters became the first Craftsbury Small Boat Training Center crew to advance to the World Rowing Under-23 Championships.

“These two rowers are capable of anything they set out to do,” Lane said. “They work hard to keep improving, no matter how much they’ve already accomplished.”

Prior to their July 15 departure for Belarus, the twins spent several weeks in Craftsbury, Vt., for extra training. A Craftsbury press release said that they hoped to begin with weight lifting and fundamental aspects of rowing before increasing the pace of their workouts to match the level of competition at their championship regatta.

The sisters’ collegiate coach had high praise for their work ethic.

“I’m proud to say that these women are members of our own team,” Lane said. “It’s great for everyone in our program to have them setting such a high example.”

Last year, the Donalds won two titles at the USRowing Club Nationals to make their first leap onto the national scene. For the following school year, Elizabeth was named a captain of Penn’s varsity eight boat, where the twins have raced since they arrived on campus three years ago.

The sisters have led their varsity eight boat to two fifth-place finishes at EAWRC Sprints in the last three seasons. Before their arrival, the school had not posted such a high finish since 1982.

The Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association has named Elizabeth to the first-team all-region twice in her three years at Penn, while Rebecca has been named to the second-team all-region in each of her three years.

But nothing can compare to an international event like the one they are about to compete in.

“The experience that they pick up from something like this is great for the rest of our team as well as themselves,” Lane said. “It can be shared among crew members, and used for later competitions.”

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