ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The best rowers come together every four years for the Olympics. But there is another challenge coming later this year.

It's called the World’s Toughest Row. There is one race taking place in the Pacific Ocean next month, and one on this side of the country in the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the year.

What You Need To Know

  • Ryan Mulflur is a senior captain of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges rowing team

  • As a 5'10'' tall freshman, his former teammates brought him in and created a bond that would lead to his next adventure

  • He's joining David Ranney, Moritz Marchant and Anthony Carella to form Team Seneca Navy and race across the Atlantic Ocean in the World's Toughest Row scheduled for the end of 2025

  • The race covers 3,000 miles of water and involves two rowers on and two rowers off for 30 to 40 days

  • The four of them are fundraising for their hometown charities, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, the town where they all met

One team is preparing to row more than 3,000 miles in the Atlantic.

Along the water is often where you’ll find Ryan Mulflur, a Hobart and William Smith Colleges senior and the captain of the rowing team.

“It’s pretty meditative at points — rowing in general,” Mulflur laughed.

He started as a smaller member of the team, sitting at 5'10'' inches tall. It was his fellow teammates that built his confidence, and helped build his strength.

“They would invite me to do extra work outside of practice," he said. "We would go in the rowing basement, listen to like 2000s angsty rock music and just be erging."

Mulflur has been a rower for about a decade. He says it hasn’t always been about the love for the sport itself.

“It’s not fun to be honest with you," he said. "Like, it’s not fun like soccer. It’s not fun like football. It’s not fun like golf. Typically, [during] an outing, the most fun part is coming in and eating. You know, maybe when you figure out how to make the boat go, well, that’s you know you’re all swinging together. To me, it’s not necessarily fun. It’s almost therapeutic because it’s just hard to do. It’s a very hard thing to do. On the rowing course, there’s more, I don’t know, maybe it’s hubris. Maybe it’s humility. But there’s not a lot of chest pumping. It’s more [of] the hard work [and] the discipline."

For Mulflur, it’s always been about those bonds on the boat. That’s what’s motivating him for his next adventure.

“It is a race that happens every year," he said. "It’s called the World’s Toughest Row, fittingly, and it’s 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean as a crew, 24 hours a day for the four categories. It’ll be two rowers on, two rowers off for two hours on and two hours off to make water, and make sure we’re on course, take a nap if that’s possible. The average rower averages about four to five horus of sleep a day on this journey. It takes usually 30 to 40 days to do it. It’s extremely weather dependent."

Mulflur will be competing with three of his former college teammates, David Ranney, Moritz Marchant and Anthony Carella. The four men form Team Seneca Navy, named after the lake where they all met. The team hopes it’ll be that experience that gets them far.

“We really have this kind of brotherly love for each other," he said. "And if you look at the teas that have been really successful in the past, it’s the teams that really work really well together under conditions of extreme stress and they have that prior connection."

The four competitors are using this race as an opportunity to fundraise for their hometowns, as well as the town they all met.

“The Boys & Girls Club of Geneva was really our first pick because that’s where we all came together," Mulflur said. "And [we want to give] back to the community that has really given us so much."

The World’s Toughest Row will take place at the end of 2025. Until then, the team is preparing financially, physically and mentally.

“I’m definitely scared," Mulflur said. "I’m kind of doing it because it scares me. It was scary to come here and be, you know, 5'10''. I’m rowing with guys that are 6'6''. What’s scarier to me about graduating and leaving this team and not having a challenge in front of me that this is pushing me to the very limits of what I believe is possible."

He’s looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel with the rest of his team.

“That’s what I’m most excited about, honestly for this challenge is the fear of [asking myself], 'Am I good enough to do this? Is this really possible?'” Mulflur smiled.