Crew, coming off of strong spring season, prepares for future
The Washington University Crew is looking to live up to that reputation.
“Rowing is the ultimate team sport. You could put extremely fit athletes together in a boat, and it still might not go well,” senior Miranda Timonen said. “Boat chemistry is so important to having a good race. Unless you’re racing a single (one person, no coxswain), it’s pretty important to be humble and believe your teammates are pulling as hard as you are.”
The big event on the Wash. U. Crew schedule this year is the Head of the Charles, a two-day race in Boston, MA. It is the second largest two-day rowing regatta in the world and brings in over 300,000 spectators.
“[It] is one of the only races that attracts spectators. It’s almost more of a festival than just a race,” Timonen said. “The men are racing the collegiate 8+, which they have auto-qualified the past two years, and the women are racing the collegiate 4+. We did extremely well last spring in the 4+, so we’re very excited to race some of the best teams in collegiate rowing and hopefully put up some fast times this fall.”
Andy Laine, then a graduate student, founded Wash. U. Crew in 1985 with help from former Yale oarsman and St. Louis Rowing Foundation founder Karl Heilman. The club has prospered for over 25 years and looks to continue to expand.
A big step came in 2004 when the Boathouse was completed, thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous Washington University parent. The facility sits on the banks of Creve Coeur Lake, which acts as a storage structure for the boats and features a strength and conditioning room and locker rooms.
During the season, the team travels to the lake early in the morning for practice Monday through Saturday.
“We’re on the water and we tend to do two technique days every week. We do long practices and just go around and around the lake,” sophomore Sarah Legault said. “We’ll do medium workout days and harder days where we work on cardiovascular endurance and being able to move the boat. It’s a great workout. The fall is a lot of 5K [races], so we do a lot of longer pieces because we have to go farther in regattas. In the spring, we do a lot more sprinting because they are 2K.”
Last season, the Bears finished 19th of 50 teams in the American Collegiate Rowing Association’s (ACRA) final total points standings with 16 points overall. The men’s team finished in 16th place while the women’s team finished in 15th place. The women’s team also earned individual honors from the ACRA, highlighted by current sophomore Audrey Leeka’s appearance on the All-Freshman boat. Senior Gryte Satas and Timonen earned places on the third-team All-American boat as well.
“Being named All-American was pretty exciting, but my most important accomplishment that weekend was winning nationals in our varsity 4+. We put in so many hours of extra training, and everyone on the team, from novices to parents and alumni, were so supportive and excited,” Timonen said.
Wash. U. Crew hosted “Bring a Friend to Crew” day on Saturday to give students a taste of the intricacies of rowing.
“[The] event was just to expose the rowing team to a greater population. It served the same purpose as our erg racing at Big Bang or last spring’s Erg-a-thon—to show the campus population a little bit about what we do, since rowing isn’t well-known to most people,” Timonen said. “We also want people who might be interested to be able to come out and try it, no pressure. Sometimes people have the misconception that rowing is only for huge jacked guys, when anyone can be good at rowing.”
The crew team also conducts the “Rent-a-Rower” program to raise money for equipment and fees.
“‘Rent-A-Rower’ is one of our fundraising programs, where people in the St. Louis area pay us to do household tasks like raking, moving and cleaning. Since we’re used to carrying around expensive equipment, we’re very careful and we’re used to lifting heavy stuff, so we make an ideal moving crew,” Timonen said.
Wash. U. Crew will travel to Moline, Ill., for the Quad Cities Classic on Oct. 8.