NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — “Whenever I’m on the water it’s very therapeutic,” said Felipe “Tre” Tremillo after spending some time in the Quinnipiac River.
For him, rowing is more than just a hobby. He’s training to compete in this year’s Invictus Games in Toronto this September.
“The Invictus Games were started by Prince Harry about three years ago and they’re to help veterans who come back with injuries from the war – to have them focus on that versus focus on the traumas and injuries,” Tremillo explained.
The Texas native was brought to Connecticut by the U.S. Veterans’ Rowing and Kayaking Foundation — a non-profit organization that works with veterans across the country.
“Many of them have some kind of physical or mental disability in combination so we find that recreational rehabilitation through rowing and kayaking is a great way to treat those symptoms and keep the healthcare costs down,” explained Paul-Stephen Varszegi, the President and Founder of the U.S. Veterans’ Rowing and Kayaking Foundation
Over the next month, Tremillo is working with Olympic coach John Pescatore to prepare for competition.
“The training has involves a little bit of rowing in these boats and also training on the rowing machine,” Pescatore said.
For many veterans, physical activity gives them a healthy outlet.
“They feel a lot better about themselves,” Varszegi explained. “They’re more physically fit. They’re less likely to be going out and drinking and doing other things, so overall symptom improvement is a lot better and their clinicians have also reported major improvement.”
For Tremillo, rowing has helped him deal with the memories from his time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Coming back home, my experience was pretty difficult,” he recalled. “But now I use those memories to kind of fuel my passion to compete and just set a good example for other veterans.”
Now Tremillo has his sights set on victory.
“My goal when I get to the Invictus Games is to get gold in the four-minute race and the one-minute race on the rowers,” he said.
“I’d like to see him accomplish his goals,” said Pescatore. “You can measure yourself against other people, and you can also measure yourself against yourself, and I think that’s the way to approach it.”
To learn more about the U.S. Veterans’ Rowing and Kayaking Foundation, visit VeteransRowing.com.