Competing with one of the top programs in the country in Saugatuck Rowing Club, Westport rowers Harrison Burke, Grace McGinley and Kelsey McGinley had already stocked their rooms with numerous trophies and honors from competing across country.

That was before taking their skills across the pond to take on the world’s best.

Last week, the trio added top-five finishes at the 2016 World Rowing Junior Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands representing the United States to their respective resumes. Burke (men's four+) and Kelsey McGinley (women's 4-) each earned bronze medals while Grace McGinley (women's 8+) finished fifth in her boat to cap a memorable trip to Europe.

“All I’ve been able to say is you can’t describe it in words,” Burke said. “It’s absolute last place I thought I’d find myself at the end of summer. To represent USA and performing that well, it was surreal.”

“It was super rewarding,” Kelsey said. “We trained twice a day, every day for the entire summer; we left after school and came back two days ago. The selection process was difficult and emotional; it was great to have a reward after all of that.”

Both Burke and McGinley earned their bronzes by the slimmest of margins. The men’s 4+ boat crossed the course finish line in 6:20.58, just a tenth of a second ahead of Serbia (6:20.69). The bronze for the US was the first in 16 years in that particular boat.

“The nerves are unbelievable,” Burke said. “Warming up for 45 minutes beforehand you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin. Once the green light goes and the buzzer sounds it’s all adrenaline.”

McGinley’s race was even closer. Her boat (6:47.60) edged Great Britain (6:47.64) by four hundredths of a second.

“When we finished we thought we didn't medal,” Kelsey said. “About 15 seconds after we saw on the big screen; we were really excited. We didn't know what to expect; straight 4 is one of the most competitive categories.”

Grace McGinley’s boat crossed the line in 6:37, seven seconds behind third-placed Italy and 10 behind winners Czech Republic. Grace’s boat suffered a setback almost immediately on the trip as one of the rowers was replaced, forcing the crew to get reps with a new lineup.

“It was frustrating to miss the podium for sure,” Grace said. “But it was the best we could have rowed technically; it was mixed emotion we would have liked to do better but we did well.”

The U23 and senior World Championships took place at the same venue in the same time, giving the youngsters a chance to get an up close look at the premier talent in the world.

All three agreed it was a tremendous learning experience.

“One thing that it showed me was just strong everyone is internationally,” Grace said. “I've only ever competed at nationals, which is still a pretty big competition. Everyone here is so much better.”

The group gets a bit of respite before another season at Saugatuck begins in the fall. All three will soon begin the recruiting process to take their talents to the collegiate level.

“I definitely want to row in college,” Burke said. “Recruiting for rowing starts this year for year; I’ll be able to start visiting schools; this summer has definitely put me in a very good position.”