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In The Boat with… Kiran Ikram

Mar 25, 2013, 9:18 AM EST

photo by Kaitlyn Kiely

It’s time for me to introduce you to another member of the Notre Dame rowing team, Kiran Ikram. As a friend of Kiran’s, it has been really cool getting to know her because not only is she a Division I athlete, but she comes from Pakistan as well. She offers some unique insight into the life of a rower and student from another country.

So you are from Pakistan. Is rowing popular there?

No, not at all actually. There are 3 main groups that row there; army, navy and the amateur association and they are basically all guys.

How did you get involved in rowing then?

I used to sail a lot before I rowed. I was looking for a new sport and my uncle was a part of the amateur association and he encouraged me to row. I loved it. I started getting some really good times and I just stuck with it.


Did any other girls row?

Not at first, it was just me. I would compete regionally with this group of guys. So all guys and just me. But after I got really into it, I starting convincing girls from my school to row. Within two years it went from just me to about 20 girls.

Were you treated differently rowing with boys?

People had a hard time letting girls use nice equipment. One time I went to a rowing camp at the naval base. I had to get special permission to go in the first place and everyone complained that they didn’t want a girl getting special attention so I got stuck with a lot of old broken equipment. My boat was duct taped together and it had a hornets nest in it! Unfortunately I didn’t realize the hornets were in there until I had already started rowing.

Wow, that’s crazy. I can’t believe you stuck with it.

Yeah. I was young enough to take it in my stride and not complain or be affected by it.

How did you end up at ND?

Some coaches I had met in Pakistan from the US invited me to come train with them in Philadelphia for a few weeks. I got to compete in some good regattas and schools started noticing me. As for ND, I didn’t even know it existed until a few months before I got here. I had two priorities; it had to be a good rowing school and a good business school. While I was looking at the best business schools I noticed ND. I came on a visit and loved it. The coaches were so nice. Notre Dame is one of those places you visit and just fall in love with.

Besides getting nice equipment, how is rowing different at ND?

I actually have a team! It’s really great to have a team rather than just me, myself and I all the time. They have become my main support system.

Who is your craziest teammate?

Kiersten DeHaven. But crazy in a good way! I love her, she’s absolutely inspiring.

What dorm do you live in?

PW (Pasquerilla West). I love it. There are some really good people who live there.

Do you have a favorite spot on campus?

Well, in the summer, I love lying down on South Quad. It’s just really nice.

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