The women’s rowing team opened its spring season with rainy skies, a fresh team and a newly christened boathouse March 14 at its first home meet, the Hagg Lake Invitational Regatta.
The team went head-to-head with teams from Lewis & Clark College, Willamette University and the University of Oregon in a 2,000-meter course.
At the end of the day, Pacific’s varsity 8+ took third in the opening race. The novice 8+ also got a chance to test the waters that day in the same course and beat out Willamette.
Head coach Amanda Dudley said the win was heartening but the team has a long way to go to keep up in the varsity 8+ category.
The first rainy day of the season was a new racing experience for the team, which had only rowed in smooth water prior to the race.
“I have never been afraid the actual shell was going to tip over until that day,” freshman Elona Wilson said. “It was definitely an experience!”
In between the varsity and novice races, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new boathouse. President Lesley Hallick and Director of Athletics both attended the ceremony. The team also christened its new four-man shell.
The spring season brought five new rowers to the team, including junior Sierra Myers who decided to give it a try after 15 years of competitive swimming.
Myers said she loves being new to the sport because she never knows what will happen at the next practice and the atmosphere is very young and eager on the team.
“It’s like we are all falling into a black hole every day but in the best way,” Myers said.
Nearly half of the thirteen-member team is made up of newcomers as it heads into its main competition season. With so many inexperienced rowers, the team spends a lot of its time catching people up and working on technique.
Myers said the hardest part to grasp is the technique, which can send the entire boat off sync when one person messes it up.
“A lot of people underestimate rowing and think it’s just a brute force,” she said. “You have to worry about so much more than that.”
While there is still a lot to be learned, Wilson said she is excited to see the power and success the team will have once everyone gets their coordination together.
In addition to daily morning practices at Hagg Lake, the team weight trains at night and does additional workouts together.
Myers said it’s the light and fun attitude that gets the team through all of the grueling work.
“We are a brand new program so, unlike other programs, we are in a part of the sport where everything is fresh and fun,” she said.
Dudley said she is consistently impressed with the team’s positive attitudes and how well the new members have jumped into a challenging situation.
On top of performing and competing, Dudley said her main goal for her first year is to build a team culture that is competitive, demanding and rewarding all at the same time.
The team will continue its season March 28 in Spokane, Wash. At the Daffodil Sprints.