Written by Student-Athlete; Anna Foster.
This spring has seen the GVSU Rowing Team return to the Grand River in full force after nearly a year-long hiatus from organized full-team practices! Following a brief 5 weeks of winter training at the GVSU Recreation Center, the docks were put in early this March and have been launching boats ever since. With some restrictions lifting across Michigan, the team has been able to safely resume daily practices in full-crew boats. Every weeknight, we're seeing at least four 8+'s and multiple other 4-'s out on the water, carrying our team of 55 athletes. After spending the past year only being able to row singles, this has been a very welcome change, lifting spirits throughout the entire team and reinforcing the team dynamic that makes being part of GV Rowing so special. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, we are still unable to travel or compete. But as any rower knows, when there's more than 1 boat on the water, it's a race!
Since we can't compete with other schools, it's up to us to make our own competition. Facilitated by head coach Dan Martin and alumni coach Brian Britz, 4 team captains were selected: Melissa Frank a 5th year senior and long-time member of the varsity women's squad, Eddie Pfannes a junior, and varsity man, and novices Haley Clark and Jaydon Dingman. These captains divided the rest of the team into 4 equal squads of varsity and novice rowers, men and women. Though the season isn't exactly what we had hoped, this has given the team a wonderful opportunity to come together as one, giving teammates the opportunity to row with people other than their normal pair partners. It's also greatly helped the novices with their introduction to sweep rowing by pairing them with some of their varsity teammates. Each of these squads has been practicing with each other, and throughout the spring season will be racing against the other squads! This spring will have 4 racing weekends with different events teams can enter. Every event will have certain point values - the team with the most points at the end of the season will be the Laker Navy's 2021 Spring Champion!
The last weekend of March saw the first installment of the inter-squad races! All athletes raced at least once in a 4k head race from the boathouse, upstream past the Grand River Ravines Park, then back to our home base. The first race of a sunny morning saw Team Eddie's Varsity 4- coming across the finish line first, just 1.7 seconds ahead of Team Melissa. Team Melissa's boats swept the rest of the well-fought races, taking first place in the Women's 4+, Men's 4+, Novice 4+, and Mixed 8+. After this first weekend of racing, the point totals stand at Team Melissa with 43, Team Eddie with 34, Team Haley with 32, and Team Jaydon with 31. Happy with her team's performance, captain Melissa states, "my squad, which we have jokingly named ourselves the 'soul crushers', have been one of the hardest working groups of people I've rowed with. Whether it's running hills before practice or adding an extra erg workout, they've been pushing themselves to get just a little bit better every day. We've been competing against each other every Wednesday as a squad to get the extra erg pieces done and using the idea of widening the gap to push us forward. I believe that's why we did well at our inter-squad regatta last Saturday. We weren't expecting to do as well as we did, and some races came as a complete surprise to us. I think there is a lot of work to be done, as always, but I think we're at a really strong starting point! I can't wait to see how fast we will go at the end of this month!"
The Laker Navy excitedly anticipates lining up bow-to-bow for 3 more April weekends of sprint racing! Over these next few weeks of training, each athlete will be training hard and seeking ways to edge out their opponents and claim more points for their respective team. We're all looking forward to our next bout of races on 4/11 to see how much more speed we can gain over the course of this spring!