Profile of an Israel Outdoors Alumn – US Olympic Hopeful Style


Here at Israel Outdoors we are always interested in finding out more about our participants and learning about the interesting things that they do. Nicole Dinion. was just on a free Taglit-Birthright Israel trip with Israel Outdoors this past December, and shares with us her experiences as a member of the US Rowing Team with ambitions for the upcoming summer Olympics.


Where are you from?
I’m from Falls Church, Virginia, which is about 7miles outside of DC.

Where do you live currently?
I’m currently living in Oklahoma City. One of the US Rowing Training Centers is located downtown on the Oklahoma River.

What do you currently do for a living?
I like to think of rowing as my “primary” job, but since I don’t make money that way I also spend 20 hours a week doing business strategy consulting with a firm called inCode Consulting. We service the Telecom, Media, and Technology (TMT) industry.

How did you become interested in rowing?
Rowing was offered at my high school growing up.  I used to be a swimmer when I was younger and one day the pool pump broke and swim practice was cancelled.  I walked down to the cafeteria after school where the rowing team was doing their winter training.  I did some pieces on the rowing machine and I guess it went pretty well because the freshman coach got all the seniors (who seemed really cool since they could do things like drive) to come convince me to row and say hi to me in the halls that week. It worked!

nicoleWhat is your favorite part of rowing?
Racing. When you race in the boat you can’t just “hammer it out.” Rowing efficiently requires a feel for the boat: the acceleration and deceleration, sharp and precise motions with the blade, balance and a stabilized core.  Sometimes, the strongest athletes are some of the slowest on the water because rowing requires finesse.  Finding a way to “give it your all,” while still maintaining the form and technique with whatever weather conditions are going on around you is extremely challenging and makes every race so unique and special.

What is your favorite rowing story?
This is a hard one. Some highlights include rowing in the first snowfall in DC one winter, and getting caught in a torrential downpour that made us have to stop rowing and put all our effort into just bailing water out of the boat with our water bottles.  Another really cool experience was when me, my mom, and my stepdad took our boats out into the sound in North Carolina’s outerbanks. That area is a breeding ground for dolphins and as we were rowing baby dolphins started swimming next to us.  It got kind of scary though, because our boats are made of very thin, fragile material and the dolphins were bumping up against the boat and I was worried I was going to have to swim home!

Why did you decide to go on an Israel Outdoors trip?
Given that I love to hike and spend time outside, the outdoors trip made the most sense for me. Whenever I visit or race in foreign countries I love to get a feel for the land and really connect to what it is like to live there.  I think people get really attached to their local spots and places – I know I’m attached to my river!  We got to see a lot of really magical places on the trip and I think it enables you to appreciate Israel as a land – and to appreciate some of the conflicts between Israeli’s and Palestinians.

What was your favorite part of your Israel Outdoors trip?
Snowrusalem.  Who else got to see Jerusalem covered in snow! We built snowmen and igloos and spent copious amounts of time in our hotel rooms.  We might be the only trip who didn’t go to Yad Vashim – so now I have an excuse to go back soon 🙂