Usually when I tell someone I am on the crew team, what follows is “What’s that?” I then reply, “rowing,” but the world behind that is its own brutal sport that my friends may never understand. At the same time, I have come to love it and continue to hold a large amount of respect for it. I am currently a freshman and joined crew in the Fall 2015, with no experience as a rower, whatsoever.
My first experience on the water was quite rough because I was so unfamiliar with the motion of rowing. When rowing, your entire body must work together, starting from your legs, up to your back, and finishing with your arms. This motion requires a flow that must be maintained to be successful and initially it felt quite unusual; I never felt discouraged because other novices who rowed in high school would always give me advice about my posture and the coaches supported me while teaching me.
Another challenge that I still struggle with as a rower is timing. Crew is an intense team sport because timing is crucial. If you are not in time with the first seat, the boat will not move properly, and it can cause issues with the rowing of your teammates. Combining these two actions makes crew an even larger challenge because you have to keep up with everyone in front of you while focusing on your form at the same time. After that first practice, my hands experienced their first callouses and blisters, which we, as a team, all share. Comparing the brutality of each of our hands is quite common and we never seem to disappoint. As I continued with novice practices, I became much more familiar with the routine of practice, improved my rowing, and, of course, developed plenty of callouses.
On Rensselaer Crew, you are not limited to just rowing. At one practice, I had the opportunity to be a coxswain, which I had always wanted to try because I am a good size for it. The coaches were very helpful in teaching me the terminology and how to steer the boat while I cox, and although I was not super successful, I am glad that I have tried it and I know that if I wanted to continue it, the team would have supported me and helped me get better at it.
What most of us look forward to throughout the season is going to regattas. That is where we can showcase all of the efforts that we put into practice. This Spring 2016 season, we have not been to any regattas yet. However, last season I attended two regattas, one as a spectator and the other as a competitor. The Head of the Charles Regatta is held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is one of the largest regattas, with teams from across the country attending and lots of different companies showcasing their products for rowers. This regatta was hectic, but it was fascinating to see all of these different rowers and how successful they are; I aspire to be that great of a rower. It was very much worth the early morning to drive all the way to Boston to see this outstanding event.
I also attended the Head of the Fish Regatta on Halloween in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., competing in a Women’s Collegiate Novice Eight boat. For my first race I was quite nervous and intimidated by other teams, but despite wanting to win, it was more about gaining the race experience as a novice.
We were as successful as we had
hoped, but it was a great bonding
experience that we all shared and enjoyed. This season we will be attending Metros and having a scrimmage against Clarkson, both of which I am very excited to attend, especially after our brutal winter conditioning.
After Winter Break, even though we were not on the water, we still had winter conditioning. In the ’87 Gym basement, we have a room full of rowing machines where we practice for about two months before the docks come in for the spring. Winter conditioning is quite torturous, but the team suffers together and it becomes more of a bonding experience. Every other weekend we have our 2K tests in which we sprint 2,000 meters and have other exercises to complete afterwards including bench pulls, sit-ups, push-ups, and wall sits. Despite the pain of winter training, I feel that I have improved my rowing technique overall. I was ready for Adirondack Erg Sprints this past weekend, and now, I feel much better prepared going into this coming spring season.
On Saturday, March 26, the crew team hosted the annual Adirondack Erg Sprints, a fundraising event for the team held in the ECAV Auxiliary Gym. There are several categories in which members of the Rensselaer Crew Team compete, and open categories for anyone else who wants to try erging and compete, as well as a relay open to teams of four. Each individual event consists of one 2,000 meter sprint. I personally competed in the lightweight women’s division and placed second with a time of 8:56.4, which felt like quite an accomplishment as a large improvement from my very first 2K time at the beginning of winter conditioning. In the lightweight men’s division, novice Dan Fee placed first with a time of 6:54.3. Very close behind were varsity members Dan Catranis with a time of 6:55.6 and Shane Conaboy with a time of 7:17.0. In the lightweight women’s division, first place went to varsity member Krista Biggs with a time of 8:27.9, I came in second place with the time stated above. Varsity member Marina Callisto took third place with a time of 8:58.3. In the collegiate novice men’s division, freshman Michael Landuyt took first place with a time of 6:38.8, freshman Frank Riley followed coming in at 6:50.4, and senior Hans Ofer took third with a time of 6:56.6. Senior Zach Konopaske took first in the collegiate varsity men’s division with the time 6:38.1, followed by junior Jack Higgins at 6:40.7, and senior Chris DiNicola with 07:00.2. In the collegiate women’s division, junior Danielle Mahoney took gold coming in at 8:15.1, and close behind was junior Jenn Leach with 8:17.9. The day continued with the 4 x 500 Relay and other divisions for others who wanted to try to erg. Overall, the day was quite fun to bond as a team and take ourselves out of our hole in the basement of the ’87 Gym. I am looking forward to ADKs next year and hope for a larger turnout.