AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kaitlin Knifton grew up around rowing. Her dad, a Texas alum who rowed for the national team, tried to push the sport onto a hesitant Kaitlin. Eventually, he started to get his wish with Kaitlin in high school.

“My dad, he did have to bribe me to go to rowing practice,” said Knifton, a graduate student. “He got me some Lululemon which at the time was all I wanted. And he would buy me JuiceLand every day before practice to get me to go.”

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Growing up with more of a passion for dancing, Knifton stayed on the rowing path as she grew up. She has helped power Texas to its first and second national titles in 2021 and 2022.

“I really dreamed of that moment,” said Knifton. “That was a big reason I chose Texas. I wanted to be part of a building team and the first for something.”

The two-time first-team All-American has accomplished a ton in the sport that’s been in her family for a long time. But spine surgery last year almost derailed the McCallum High School graduate’s fourth full season with the Longhorns.

“That was kind of something that I didn’t know if I’d be able to row again after,” said Knifton. And kind of had to prepare myself, ‘What would I do if I didn’t have rowing?'”

Ask Knifton’s teammates about her and a myriad of glowing reviews follows. Ask Knifton’s coach about her and the appreciation shines through.

“Off the water, she is the nicest, kindest, most humble person around,” said Texas head rowing coach Dave O’Neill. “But then you get on the water…the race begins and she’s a total killer.”

The Longhorns will look to claim a third straight national championship this weekend in Pennsauken, New Jersey.