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The Virginia rowing team takes an annual training trip to Florida in preparation for the spring season. This year, a different senior will check in each day with to give insight to how the trip is going. Thursday’s (Jan. 12) entry is from Jenny Shultis (Lexington, Va.).

There is some debate on the actual length of time we’ve been here in Deland, Fla. Some say six full days, others a lifetime. We stumbled out of bed at 7 a.m. to twilight this morning, rubbing sleep from our eyes on our warm-up run.

After core exercises and stretching, we split into three different groups, each group doing pieces. For those of you who are new to rowing, or not “rowing-word-savvy”, pieces are set-timed durations of rowing at certain stroke rates. Different boats did different length pieces, however the consensus as we docked, sweat drenched and blistered, was that we’d rowed to the ocean and back, if not further. Following a quick fuel up, we ran/circuited for a half hour. Afterwards, some of us napped, continued eating, or caught up on our TV series in our down time. I’ll be completely honest here and tell you I had a fantastic, drool-augmented nap, from which I awoke completely confused and disoriented. One thing our coaches know how to do is tire us out!

Our afternoon workout consisted of potentially my favorite part of the whole trip. I am a complete nature geek, so when Coach Kevin (Sauer) announced that we were taking our annual row to a manatee reserve I’m pretty sure I did a little dance, which this far into camp is hard to do. We rowed about 4,000 meters to the manatee reserve and docked on the sandy river bank. Manatees flock to the reserve in winter months as the St. John River cools. Springs bubble up in the reserve’s cove, bringing warmer waters into an otherwise frigid riparian environment. While the manatees weren’t as thrilled as we were to see them, they did seem to enjoy the warmer waters, as did large fish, and even an alligator who made everyone hesitate a little before they waded back into the boats!

After dinner at Stetson University, we had a team mug exchange. Like a white elephant exchange, rowers snagged from their parents or purchased cheap, yet hilarious mugs over break to open, trade, and steal from each other. Some could hold five cups of coffee, others had fluffy, feathery flamingos, while still others displayed the visage of our boatman Roger (Payne) and even our coach Steve (Pritzker)! The mug exchange was a great way to have fun and a laugh after a week of training. In fact, the entire afternoon was a nice break from the physical grind of the week.

With only a few days left here in Florida, rowers can see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far it has been a very hard, yet productive trip. It has been great to get back on the water, and even soak up some sun as we get psyched for the spring season. What amazed me this trip is the dedication, energy, desire to succeed, and inspiration team members provide for each other. When sore and exhausted, our teammates are there urging us on and driving us even further, pushing us to our limits and then some. Florida has been a chance get us back into the rowing mindset, work on our technique, and get excited for the spring season…as well as get one heck of a uni-tan!

Sarah Borchelt’s entry (Jan. 7)

Carolyn Glandorf’s entry (Jan. 8)

Martha Kuzzy’s entry (Jan. 9)

MacKenzie Leahy’s entry (Jan. 10)

Cara Linnenkohl’s entry (Jan. 11)

Chelsea Simpson’s entry (Jan. 13)

Sidney Thorsten’s entry (Jan. 14)

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