Katie Spotz

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Katie Spotz

Katie Spotz (born 1987) is an American adventurer who became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, departing from Dakar, Senegal on January 3, 2010, and landing in Guyana on March 14, 2010.[1] She was the first person to have swum the entire length of the Allegheny River in New York state and Pennsylvania.[2]

Katie is an Ambassador to a nonprofit called H2O for Life speaking to schools and groups across the country. She is also giving talks about her book Just Keep Rowing (2015).

Early life[edit]

Spotz was born in Mentor, Ohio. She graduated from Mentor High School in 2005[3] and Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2008.[4]

Allegheny River swim[edit]

In 2008, Spotz became the first person to swim the entire 325 mile (523 km) length of the Allegheny River, which runs between New York state and Pennsylvania. Accompanied by safety kayaker, James Hendershott, the two began on July 22 to hike the "stream" for 27 miles before starting at swimming depth on the river at Roulette, Pennsylvania.[5] They finished at the "Point" where the Allegheny and the Monongahela River join to form the Ohio River in Downtown Pittsburgh less than a month later, on August 21.[6][7]

Atlantic crossing[edit]

On January 3, 2010, Spotz embarked on a solo ocean rowing crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, in a planned 2,473 mile westward route from Senegal to French Guiana. During her journey, her diet consisted of mostly chocolate bars. En route she altered the route, increasing the total distance by approximately 400 miles, setting Georgetown, Guyana as the terminus for a total distance of 2,817 miles.[8] Spotz altered course because weather conditions at her original destination were not favorable for an unassisted landing.[9] She completed the trip on March 14, 2010, to become the youngest person to ever row solo across the Atlantic Ocean and the only American to row solo from Africa to South America. Spotz is also only the second woman to have rowed solo across the Atlantic from mainland to mainland, following the January 2007 crossing by Sophie Macé of France who rowed from Saint Louis, Senegal, to Saint Laurent, French Guyana.

Katie's boat, "Liv", is a 19-foot vessel that was used in a successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.[10] The boat was designed by British boat designer Phil Morrison, who had been asked by Scottish rower Chay Blyth, who himself rowed across the North Atlantic in 1966, to design a small, light boat capable of surviving extreme conditions. This design was later modified to a solo vessel.[11]

Just Keep Rowing[edit]

Five years after her record-breaking row, Katie Spotz’ book, Just Keep Rowing, which is co-authored by university professor Mark Bowles, details the various lessons she learned during her 70-day journey. A portion of the proceeds from Just Keep Rowing will support the mission of partner, H2O for Life.


  • Spotz, Katie; Mark Bowles (2015). Just Keep Rowing. Self-published. ISBN 0692474862.


  1. ^ "Row for Water — Katie Spotz' solo row across the Atlantic Ocean for safe drinking water". Rowforwater.com. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  2. ^ Jodie Valade (December 16, 2009). "Mentor's Katie Spotz prepares for an improbable quest: Rowing the Atlantic Ocean". Cleveland.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  3. ^ Glasier, David S. (2009-04-26). "GaREAT place to play comes to Geneva". The News-Herald. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
  4. ^ "First the Allegheny, next the Atlantic for Katie Spotz '08". The Story Behind. Warren Wilson College website. Retrieved on 2010-02-24.
  5. ^ http://www.deviantart.com/art/Coudersport-07-Allegheny-River-369911442
  6. ^ "Swimmer completes 325-mile swim of Allegheny - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". Pittsburghlive.com. 2008-08-22. Archived from the original on 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  7. ^ Malloy, Daniel (2008-08-22). "Take me to the river". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  8. ^ Maag, Christopher (March 14, 2010). "Woman Is the Youngest to Cross an Ocean Alone". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  9. ^ "Solo rower Katie Spotz, 22, alters course, adding extra miles and days to her transatlantic attempt". Los Angeles Times. March 8, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  10. ^ Chris Sesno Editor (2009-12-16). "Katie Spotz Hopes to Be Youngest to Row Across Atlantic Ocean". Back Porch FanHouse. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  11. ^ Maag, Christopher (December 17, 2009). "American Will Attempt to Cross an Ocean in a Rowboat". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010.

External links[edit]

Katie Spotz feature in WideWorld magazine