Crew team gets ready for season
The men’s and women’s crew teams are already hard at work for the 2014 season. The Loggers will not hit the water for the first regatta until March 29, but they have already started their early morning practices in preparation for another great season.
The crew teams are some of the most successful teams on campus, but also the least visible due to the nature of the sport. Regattas are early in the morning, or full-day events, and take place off-campus. Home races take place in Lakewood and generally do not attract a large student population, but families often turn out for the bigger regattas.
With or without fan presence the men’s and women’s teams consistently perform well. The women’s varsity eight competed in the NCAA tournament for the 11th year in a row in 2013 where they took eighth. The men’s varsity four are hoping for a bid to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championship Regatta in May. The IRA Championship Regatta is in New Jersey and includes some of the top teams from around the country.
Crew is about mixing power with rhythm. Boats are rowed by one, two, four or eight people and a coxswain. All the rowers, except the coxswain, sit facing backwards so they must develop a rhythm to make sure oars are in and out of the water at the same pace.
The coxswain is usually the smallest member of the team and they serve as a coach in the boat. They are the only position that faces forward so they ensure the boat is moving forward safely and yell out instructions on how to steer to the rest of the boat.
Puget Sound has men’s and women’s varsity as well as men’s and women’s novice teams. These four teams compete in boats of 4, 8 or Petites, a rower with a coxswain. Teams are abbreviated by gender, rank and then boat size. Women’s varsity eight are commonly referred to as WV8.
The crew teams are extremely dedicated. They wake up at 4:30 for 5 a.m. workouts and can be seen practicing on ergs (rowing machines) outside Wallace Pool when it is sunny. They train year round to compete in races over the course of six weekends in the spring.
The early morning workouts do have some extra benefits.
“There’s no feeling like being on the water at 6 in the morning watching the sun rise over Mount Rainier,” senior Ben Hagen (Torrance, Calif.) said.
The Loggers are ranked amongst the top of Division III crew on the West coast, adding Northwest glory to a sport typically associated with the East coast and the Ivy League.
Last May the women’s varsity eight beat Humboldt State, winner of the DII title the year before. Puget Sound is currently ranked 13th in the DIII bracket. The only other college on the west coast ranking in the top 13 is University of Washington.
Crew requires mental and physical dedication, but the dedication is apparent in the community between team members and their continued success.
“I think it’s an amazing activity that can bring out a lot of potential in someone,” Hagen said. “And I think the inclusion of crew goes with a well rounded liberal arts education.”
The first regatta of the season is the Daffodil Sprints on March 29 in Lakewood.