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St. John’s teens shatter rowing record

O’Brien, Miller put in 48 straight hours with some support

  • record30p1

    Bailey O’Brien, 18, center left, finishes the final minute of rowing during a world record breaking, 48-hour session with himself and James Miller, 17, right, Sunday at St. John’s Jesuit Academy.

    <The Blade/Katie Rausch
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  • record30p2

    Bailey O’Brien, 18, left, waits to take over rowing for his partner, James Miller, 17, center. The teens raised $8,000 in donations for the Toledo Labre Program.

    <The Blade/Katie Rausch
    Buy This Image

record30p1

Bailey O’Brien, 18, center left, finishes the final minute of rowing during a world record breaking, 48-hour session with himself and James Miller, 17, right, Sunday at St. John’s Jesuit Academy.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
Enlarge | Buy This Image

After grinding out two days on a rowing machine, Bailey O’Brien and James Miller joined an elite group: world record-holders.

The two teenagers took turns rowing on the same machine for 48-straight hours, from noon Friday to noon Sunday. Their time shattered the previous record for most consecutive hours on a machine in their age category: 40 hours, 30 minutes, set by two Michigan high school students.

The rowing spree took place at St. John’s Jesuit High School, from which Mr. O’Brien, 18, just graduated and where young Miller, 17, will be a senior this fall.

Mr. O’Brien pulled hard during the last minute as the Rocky movie theme played on speakers and a group of about three dozen family, friends, crew teammates, and school officials cheered and snapped pictures of the feat’s final seconds.

When the machine clocked 48 hours, Mr. O’Brien got up from the seat and grabbed a towel.

Their tally: 504,758 meters.

The record will be certified by Concept2, the rowing machine maker that tracks such attempts.

“We actually could probably go for another day,” Mr. O’Brien said, during a break before one of his final turns.

record30p2

Bailey O’Brien, 18, left, waits to take over rowing for his partner, James Miller, 17, center. The teens raised $8,000 in donations for the Toledo Labre Program.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
Enlarge | Buy This Image

His fellow rower called the accomplishment “huge.”

“We’ve had so many people just flowing in and out all the time. Even at like 4 in the morning, we had families coming in. We had so much support, it’s pretty unbelievable,” young Miller said. “We were pretty much set on 48 hours, and we’re good at pushing each other.”

His father, Kurt Miller, was among those watching as the pair reached their goal.

“I said if there’s any two guys that can do it, it will be him and Bailey O’Brien,” Mr. Miller said.

At night, one rowed while the other slept for a short stint.

Classmates played cornhole, and decks of cards and video games were stacked on the McQuade Theater stage where the machine was set up. Crew coach Philipp Levering estimated they had played 27 movies during the event’‍s duration.

The teens used the occasion to raise roughly $8,000 in donations for the Toledo Labre Program, which assists the area’s needy and homeless.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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