Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Megan McCartin - From Courtroom to Competition

    (Note: From time to time I'm going to use this blog to tell readers the stories about the interesting activities that those who work day-in-and-day-out in public service take part in or about the goals they accomplish outside their time at the Montgomery County Courthouse. I hope you enjoy the profiles and learning more about the heights to which some courthouse employees have climbed and the milestones they've reached.) 
Montgomery County Courthouse/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

     Many around the Montgomery County Courthouse might be feeling the winter blues these days and one person in particular is looking forward to the warmth of spring. Megan McCartin, a full-time court reporter for 14 years who has been assigned solely to Judge William R. Carpenter's courtroom  since 2005, is looking forward to getting outdoors and back on the water with her local dragon boat club for some friendly competition.
    Who can blame her, for the job of a registered professional court reporter is stressful, time-consuming with long hours, and sometimes emotionally draining, especially when having to record heart-wrenching testimony from crime victims or their survivors.
    "It's a great stress reliever. It's a healthy stress reliever," McCartin said about her membership with the Philadelphia Flying Phoenix Women's Dragon Boat Club. "It truly, for that hour or hour and a half on the river, you're focused so much on improving your stroke. It's a full body workout. You're concentrating and your focused on something other than the crappy day you might have had or the work you have still waiting at home. It is just so refreshing.
Megan McCartin
    "I'm not thinking of it as exercise, like going to the gym. It's so different. You want to do the best you can for the team," said McCartin, married with two daughters, ages 25 and 22. "It's hairs of a second by which you can win or lose a race and it's that extra oomph that gets you going and you push yourself."
     McCartin participated in the international World Cup Crew Championships competition last Sept. 1-7 in Ravenna, Italy, which is located on the Adriatic Coast. McCartin is a member of the Senior A team, which includes women aged 40 and above.
     For McCartin, who joined the organization four years ago, it was the first time she competed internationally.
     "We didn't come in last but we certainly didn't come in first," said McCartin, adding teams from Canada and Australia fared better during the competition which was held on a man-made lake. "I still feel we held our own among some young women."
     McCartin has the medals to prove her power and aerobic endurance and proudly displays them at her courthouse office.
Megan McCartin displays her medals/Photos by Carl Hessler Jr.

     McCartin, of Horsham, said she enjoyed meeting competitors from all over the world. Teams from 27 different countries, 5,400 paddlers, participated.
     "After the opening ceremonies everybody just mingled and talked and got pictures with each other. And on the last day, everybody, after their last race, would go around and try and trade jerseys with another team," McCartin recalled.
    McCartin joined the team initially thinking it would be a good way to socialize with other women and exercise. Her sister, Colleen Hogan, also joined.
     The group practices on the Schuykill River. The crew consists of 22 people, including 20 paddlers and a steers person and a drummer who set the stroke rate and give commands. Typical race distances are 200, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 meters.
     "I think my competitiveness started blossoming as I joined," said McCartin, who was encouraged by a fellow court reporter and friend from Philadelphia to join the organization. "I never dreamed of getting so involved and loving it so much that I wanted to compete to the level that we've done."
    "When I get on the river, first of all it's such a different perspective of the city when you're sitting on the water looking at the skyline. It's really beautiful," McCartin said. "It is a thrill."
McCartin's medals
     McCartin fell in love with the sport immediately and the commaraderie among the women was inspiring.
     "I felt like I walked into a room full of 40 of my best friends. I just felt like they were people I could count on, if I needed anything I could call them. They are from all walks of life, we have doctors, we have lawyers, we have court reporters and a number of teachers," McCartin said.
    The competition season typically runs from April until October. But McCartin works out at a gym and cross trains during the off-season and the group paddles at least once a week at an indoor paddle pool to prepare for the next season.
     "We're not competing at this time of the year," McCartin said recently. "It's sad when we take the boats out of the water, it's sort of like when I cover my pool at the end of the summer. It's kind of depressing. But we'll be back on the river in April."
     So, if you encounter McCartin at the courthouse wish her the best of luck on her upcoming season of competition. Go Megan!

(Note: Additional information about the dragon boat team can be obtained at )

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