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Members of the defending national champion Virginia rowing team will be checking in with about preparation for the 2013 spring season, which begins March 9 with a scrimmage against Michigan State before officially opening the season with the Oak Ridge Inviational March 16-17 in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Tuesday, March 19 – Senior Susanne Grainger

Spring Break Charlottesville Rowing Edition has come and gone for another year, but not without lots of activity! After Claytor Lake, the team returned to Charlottesville for two-a-day practices plus weight lifting and community service. On the Wednesday of break in between practices, the team split into two groups and volunteered at Camp Holiday Trails and Habitat for Humanity. At Camp Holiday Trails, the team helped clear fallen trees and debris that had come down during the snowstorm a week earlier. Across town, the Habitat for Humanity group helped lay fresh soil and sod. In both groups, many hands helped accomplish jobs that would have taken weeks in just a few hours.

At the end of the two-a-days training week, the team headed out for Oak Ridge, Tennessee for a weekend of racing. The first night in Oak Ridge, the Metcalf family hosted a delicious dinner for the entire team and coaching staff. Everyone spread out around the first floor and front yard of their beautiful house to enjoy a dinner of avocado and artichoke salad, chicken alfredo pasta, fresh veggies, and cooked asparagus. The Metcalfs know our team well as they also had an extravagant dessert bar with vanilla ice cream, a mix of fresh berries, whip cream, chocolate chips, and an array of chocolate and caramel sauces. When the night was done and our stomachs were more than full, we headed back to the hotel for a great pre-race sleep.

From Saturday to Sunday morning, all Virginia boats competed in three races. On Saturday morning, we raced Louisville and West Virginia, Georgetown and Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday morning, we raced Duke and Alabama. The wind picked up throughout the day on Saturday making the last 500m of the 2km race quite wavy. However, our team embraced this and accepted the wind and waves as practice for our upcoming race in San Diego against some fast West Coast teams. With this in mind, we swept every race of the weekend and improved within boats along the way. We still have a lot to learn and more improving to do, but this weekend was a great start. It allowed us to test our speed, find out where we are for this moment in time, and show us where we can build. There’s always room to grow and improve and Virginia always strives for that as a team. Looking forward to more racing! Go Hoos!

Wednesday, March 13 – Graduate student Sarah Cowburn

Over the weekend UVa women’s rowing hit up Claytor Lake State Park VA for the team’s first spring race – a scrimmage against Michigan State. Hungry Mother Lake would have to remain starving for another year as we sought waters new for this annual fixture. Having enjoyed 14 inches of snow during the week the team was ready for anything but sun – the whole team was looking pretty rosy by Saturday afternoon!

It felt great to be loading the boats for our first race after long weeks of winter training. The team has been enjoying some amped up workouts over the recent training period to put some money in the bank for later in the season: there’s nothing quite like 12x 1km at 6 a.m. to get you feeling feisty for the day ahead! One thing was certain; the team was ready to go on Saturday morning.

The team broke off into three groups – 2 Varsity Eights, 3 Varsity Fours and 2 novice Eights. Unlike previous years, the scrimmage fell on the first weekend of Spring Break, prior to the training days normally used for seat racing and boat trialling. In the Varsity boats, the coaches kept everyone on their toes by putting out mixed line-ups and making switches in between pieces. The past few weeks have seen some healthy competition developing within the team as we begin our Spring campaign.

In the Eights, two boats from Virginia lined up against two boats from Michigan State starting with four-minute pieces building gradually through the rates. For all non-rowers out there, different rates in rowing can be considered relative to the different gears on a stick shift car (sorry I’m a Brit): in first gear the engine requires fewer revs but consumes a lot of gas. Four minutes at stroke rate 26 feels a bit like driving in first or second gear; you really want to just change up into third, fourth and accelerate away but you’re stuck down in first and you’ve got to make the best of it. Good pieces at 26 feel like you’re driving a Corvette. Bad pieces at 26 feel like you’re struggling uphill in a Dodge Neon. At the lower rates, Virginia were well on the way to cruising in Corvettes, putting good distance on Michigan State’s two crews. Taking cue from our Men’s Basketball team’s recent victory over Duke (WAHOOWA!), we won ‘the hustle game.’ As the rates went up, Virginia’s crews continued to make good progress and the scrimmage gave us the perfect opportunity to quite literally test the waters and see what raw speed we had. In the closing pieces of the day we went head-to-head for one-minute sprints. Michigan State really challenged us over these shorter pieces, so there is still much work to be done out on the Rivanna Reservoir.

Over on the other side of the lake, Virginia’s fours were making good moves on their Spartan rivals. Five boats across made for some interesting wakes courtesy of some friendly motorboats. Over five, four-minute pieces, Virginia’s fours raced well against their opposition, at times under stroking to overhaul Michigan State’s crews. The Novice Eights did four, 3.5 minute pieces all with a start. The 1N and 3V were capped at 28 for the first piece, which forced a really rhythmic and powerful base speed. The 1N managed to walk through Michigan State in the last 15 strokes to win by one seat while being over stroked. The next three pieces were ‘open’ although Virginia stayed low at 30/31. Each piece was the same: Virginia would be down in the first minute as MSU shot off the line (in one piece by as much as a full length!), then walk through and win each by 1/2 a length with a solid drive. It was very mature and confident racing from the 1N, which speaks volumes for the potential that this group presents to Virginia Rowing as a collective.

The rates will certainly be going up this weekend when we travel to Oak Ridge Tennessee for our first 2km racing against a number of different programs. Through the rest of Spring Break the team will practice twice a day putting in significant mileage and executing numerous technical drills in preparation for the coming races; in three weeks we will fly across the country for the San Diego Crew Classic. Until then we will be up and down the Rivanna putting together the fastest boats possible and getting ready to go up against the top crews in the nation. Go ‘Hoos!

Friday, March 8 – Senior coxswain Molly Frear

Hello Wahoo Nation!

So after five cold weeks (and finally some snow!) on the water, we’re gearing up for our first competition! For the past several years, we have spent seven long, grueling days over Spring Break gearing up for our yearly scrimmage against Michigan State. However this year marks a slightly different opening to our season. Instead we’re leaving bright and early on the first Saturday morning of Spring Break to head out to face the Spartans.

The whole squad is ready and excited to see just how our season is going to start! It’s been a lot of mileage day-in-and-day-out in the hopes of starting the spring by getting a hand on the technical subtleties that can make or break a team in late May. Our attitude is ‘get it down now so we can get it done later.’

We’ve played around at some higher rates and are looking forward to racing next to some new faces! This scrimmage is always a great opportunity to see where we’re at and is lots of fun. So keep an eye out for us and GO HOOS!!!

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