Esther Lofgren is a 10-time U.S. National Rowing Team member and 2012 Olympic Champion. She was also a three time All-American and was honored, along with her Olympic gold-medal eight teammates, with the 2012 Ernestine Bayer Award for contributions to women’s rowing.
Based in Germany, Esther is training the next generation of Olympic hopefuls while working as a government consulting executive and public speaker. Esther presents to and leads team-building exercises with companies, teams, and schools, sharing her journey to Olympic gold and lessons learned as a successful, highly competitive athlete. Visit the Contact page to learn more about bringing Esther to work with your team!
Esther Lofgren began her athletic career as a AYSO soccer player at age 5. Born to two elite rowers, Esther grew up around rowing, but tried nearly every other sport–not just soccer but also basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross-country, badminton, and tennis–before picking up an oar for the first time as a high school sophomore at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, California.
The gangly, 13-year-old Lofgren–nicknamed “Chicken Legs”–was far from the strongest or fastest on the team her first season rowing, but she developed a deep love for the sport. Esther progressed by her senior year to become one of the top recruits in the country, and her concurrent academic achievements landed her an acceptance letter to Harvard University.
At Harvard, Esther rowed for the storied D1 women’s program, Radcliffe Crew, under legendary coach Liz O’Leary. She was a 3-time All-American and helped the team to two NCAA Championship appearances.
As a college freshman, Esther was invited to try out for her first Under-23 National Team. She was cut from the camp, but returned the next year and not only made the 2006 Under-23 team and won gold in the eight, but was also invited to try out for the U.S. National Team, where she earned a seat and won bronze in the four in London — the race course where she would one day win Olympic Gold.
After winning another Under-23 World Championship in 2007, Esther decided to put her studies on hold to train full-time towards making the 2008 Beijing Olympic team. She was a long shot, but throughout the year worked her way up to the top of the group. Heartbreakingly, Esther was the last woman cut from the squad that went on to win gold in Beijing. But again, being cut only fueled the fire to achieve her dream. She set out to earn a spot on the team.
Four years later, after two more World Championship titles, Esther found herself sitting in “the engine room” of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Eight, the boat she’d worked for seven long years to be a part of. In a dominating performance, the crew led their entire race to take gold ahead of Canada and the Netherlands. It was a dream come true for Esther and her teammates.
She raced again for the U.S. at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in the quadruple sculls, finishing fifth to end a season that saw the crew finish as high as silver medallists at the 2013 Sydney World Cup. After winning the 2014 U.S. National Championships in the quadruple sculls, Esther broke the half-marathon world record for indoor rowing in January 2015 by more than three minutes. She continues to compete nationally and internationally, most recently earning two close silver medals at the 2016 French National Sprint Championships in the eight.
Esther is married to Jake Barrett and lives in Germany. They have a dog, Olive, and are expecting their first daughter in January 2018.