Nielsen Lewis (Princeton University, Class of 1969, and University of Michigan Law School, J.D. 1972), an environmental litigation and land development attorney at Hill Wallack LLP at the Carnegie Center, has been rowing for four years.

As a litigator, Lewis has been involved in complex environmental cases that can continue for months or years. While many cases eventually settle out of court, each case must be developed and prepared for trial, and there are legal skirmishes and battles between lawyers along the way. Lewis’s first trial, as an attorney in the state attorney general’s office seeking a court order to enforce solid waste disposal rules promoting competition, took just one day. His most recent trial, which concerned insurance coverage for a gas station owner’s cleanup of contamination caused by a leaking gasoline storage tank, lasted seven weeks.

When he’s not in the office or a courtroom, as he told U.S. 1’s Barbara Fox, Lewis is often on the water:

Rowing is a great stress reducer. As a member of the Mercer Masters Rowing Club, sponsored by the Princeton National Rowing Association (PNRA), I enjoy rowing and competing. Six days a week at 5:30 a.m., we row out of the Finn Caspersen Boat House on Mercer Lake. At dawn we launch our “sweep” boats in a beautiful natural setting. The sky is just turning blue, the moon may still be hovering on the horizon. Around us, we see magnificent great blue herons, diving black cormorants, soaring hawks, rambunctious geese, jumping fish, and feeding deer. One day driving up to the lake, I braked for a coyote running across my path.

As with other good exercise, rowing enhances my sense of well being and outlook on life. It has not always been rowing. As a youth, I had a love of running. With the help of a scholarship, I had the good fortune of attending Phillips Exeter in New Hampshire, where I competed in track and cross country. Then, during my first year at Princeton, shin splints forced me stop the sport.

On entering the work force, I returned to running. At first I lived in Manhattan next to Central Park — beautiful open space filled with runners, riders and strollers right there in the center of one of the great cities in the world. It just beckons you. When my wife, Marcy, and I moved to West Windsor, I was running several miles a day on the road. But eventually my right knee would no longer take the pounding of long runs on pavement. As our son, Andrew, began rowing in 2003, I became curious about the sport and enrolled in PNRA’s Learn-To-Row-program. Andrew went on to row at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire and will row at Princeton next fall.

When I started rowing, I was pretty tense — gripping the oar hard and moving stiffly through the entire stroke sequence. Over time, I learned the curious combination of “driving” hard (most of the power comes from the legs) and relaxing on the “recovery” between strokes. Our coaches move us up and down the boat, and sometimes we “cox.” Coxswains sit in the stern or bow of the boat calling out commands. They are responsible for the boat and the safety of the rowers in it. Coxswains must deal with currents and winds, avoid collisions, and communicate with the coach in the launch, while also helping the rowers improve their technique and performance.

Rowing at the start of the day is a special time out for us before we enter our busy and noisy daily work routines. When we finish our workouts on the water, I feel fit, relaxed and confident. I return home, shower, eat a rich breakfast, and head off to work with a clear head. Mercer Masters is a great adult rowing program and experience. I only wish I had discovered it earlier.

Princeton National Rowing Association, South Post Road, West Windsor 08550, 609-799-7100, E-mail: amy@rowpnra.org, www.rowpnra.org. Learn to Row program through August 7, 4 weeks, $350, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Carnegie Lake Rowing Association, www.clra.com. Learn to Row program, $300. Apply by August 23, attend September 13 and 14 followed by weekday rowing on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7 a.m. and Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m. through Thanksgiving.

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