Athletes find success on the water

By Daniel Kats
Published: December 2009

Even though there is no crew team at the school, many students still find opportunities to row. Students from all over the Boston area participate in crew at Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI), a co-ed rowing club that competes all over New England.

Most of the South’s rowers pick rowing as their favorite after-school activity.

“Racing is really exciting and working for something like nationals and then succeeding, knowing that you did all that work with all seven of the girls sitting with you is absolutely the most amazing feeling in the world, senior Renee Swetz said.

Crew is unlike most sports in that it is entirely dependent on a team’s cohesiveness and unity. In order to perform at an elite level, all rowers must be synchronized. Unlike other team sports, this kind of group harmony is a vital part of success.

Winning a race, therefore, has more of an effect on the team dynamic than it does on that of mainstream athletics.

“The complete togetherness that you feel during a really good practice or a perfectly executed race is like no other feeling, Swetz said.

The rowers of CRI are consumed with the sport year-round. Five to six days a week, crew members endure intense two to three hour workouts.

According to sophomore Emma Knudsen, all of the preparation and training is done to achieve only one goal: “to get the boat to move as fast and flawlessly as possible.

This, however, is easier said than done. “If you [row] all four seasons, you will actually not get a single day off for the entire year, junior Jenny Wong said.

The hard work has paid off in recent years for South rowers, as they competed in the 2008 national tournament. It was during this competition that the team’s togetherness was most apparent.

“[I felt that] I wasn’t there alone, Swetz said. “I wasn’t the only one who would kill themselves to be on the medals stand. I could look at the people in front of me and almost trust not only that they were going through the same pain of racing that I was, but that they were working their hardest for themselves and for me.

In the spring, the team focuses on in-water sprints. Rowers train on the water in the summer, refining their overall skills. In the fall, they work on long distance, and in the winter, they train indoors to get stronger.

Crew is unique in the sense that pure athleticism is not a necessary attribute in a rower. Height, especially, is not a factor of success. “There are tons of girls [and guys] that have been really successful and are only five feet and five inches, Swetz said.

A rower may not have to be tall, but the sport requires all rowers to have an immense amount of lower body strength.

“Contrary to common belief rowing is mostly using leg muscles, as well as core and back muscles, sophomore Brit Sharon said.

CRI divides its rowers into two skill levels, much like a high school’s Varsity and Junior Varsity teams. CRI splits into novice and Varsity divisions. CRI’s top teams, however, require a minimum of two years of crew at the novice level unless the rower displays innate abilities.
According to sophomore and novice rower Noa Golan, the varsity rowers experience a different rowing atmosphere than the novice group.

“Their workouts are intense; the coaches are intense. That’s what we want to look like, and that’s what we want to row like, Golan said.

Many novice Crew members look up to the highly skilled Varsity rowers.
Members of the crew team find that being apart from the school’s athletic program can be beneficial.

“I actually like the fact that there isn’t a team at school Knudsen said. “It’s really fun to have good friends from other schools. You can leave the stresses of school behind when you get to practice every day.

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