Crew dominates Parents Weekend regatta
The cool, gentle wind and lapping waves of Creve Coeur Lake contrasted with the intensity of crew teams slicing through the water.
The Washington University club crew team came out on top in the majority of races at the Parents Weekend regatta. The Bears competed against Mizzou, the University of Illinois, Saint Louis University and the University of Chicago.
Some races, like the Varsity Men’s 8 and the Novice Women’s 8, were decided by three seconds or less.
Others, like the Novice Women’s 4 race, were decided by a much larger amount of time. The boat led by sophomore coxswain Jordan Entin and crewed by freshmen Emily Bullen, Hana Toribara, Diana Goeller and Anne Dohmen came from behind despite some technical difficulty at the start of the race. “My seat came off the rollers within the first five minutes,” Goeller said. “I didn’t want the oar to drag in the water, so I had to put the oar under my knee, and I’m turning around and trying to fix it.”
Once those on the boat understood they were encountering technical trouble, they adjusted.
“Normally it’s easier to set up the 8 because you aren’t worried about the boat tilting back and forth,” Bullen said. “When we just got out there today, once we started moving, we got the hang of it.”
It was the first time these Lady Bears had passed a boat in a race situation, and it was fitting as Illinois edged Wash. U. by 0.6 seconds at Northwestern University a few weeks ago. “Once you hit Mizzou, you couldn’t really stop,” Bullen said. After the boat walked up on Mizzou, the team overtook Illinois and SLU, finishing with a time of 14:16 on the 3,200-meter course. Illinois finished second with a time of 15:05. “Eating my vegetables and brushing my teeth finally paid off,” Toribara said.
Race times only tell part of the story, because boats were started at staggered intervals. A key component of the team is the coxswain who guides the boat. “All you see is the oars, but you can figure out what’s going on from what’s happening to the oar,” Entin said. “The role of the coxswain is to…bring the entire boat together so we can all work as one.”
“The rowers should have nothing to think about. They are 100 percent physical force,” junior David Ingber said. “You don’t get in the boat, you don’t put your oar in…You don’t do any drills without it coming from the coxswain’s mouth. We’re the brains and eyes of the boat.”
To get to their level of unity and skill, members of crew wake up before 5 a.m. and practice for a few hours six days a week on the lake.
For many Wash. U. students, waking up before the sun rises is unthinkable. Many members did other sports in high school such as gymnastics and track.
“It helps me keep my life in balance,” junior Ryan Bowers said. “It makes me go to bed early. It makes me get all my homework done.”
Ultimately, it’s the team atmosphere and the friendships that keep people coming back. “There’s something really bonding about waking up at 5 a.m.,” Bullen said.
The crew team wraps up its fall season in Wichita, Kan., at the Frostbite Classic next weekend but returns to practice this week.
“I wouldn’t wake up at 4:45 a.m. every day if I didn’t love it,” Ingber said. “When the boat’s moving right, it’s a feeling you don’t get anywhere else. It’s hard to put into words. When that boat’s flying and the sun’s coming up, it’s a beautiful day…It definitely makes up for the days of rain and snow that we’re waking up and rowing in.”