The GW women’s crew team kicked off its season at the annual Head of the Potomac Regatta on a sunny Saturday at Thompson Boat Center. Other area colleges and club crews from the metropolitan area joined the Colonials in this women’s-only endurance regatta.
The three-mile race began near Fletcher’s Cove, at a pile of rocks known as Hens and Chickens, and ended at the Roosevelt Bridge. Each boat started 15 seconds apart and raced against the clock.
The race, which GW women’s head coach Steve Peterson described as “more of a work out” for his team, was well attended by crew alumni, local runners, bikers and picnickers, as well as the rowers from competing schools including Georgetown, U.S. Naval Academy and Trinity College.
“I didn’t have any super high expectations (for today’s meet),” Peterson said, explaining that only six practices this year have been on the water because school started a week later than previous years.
He said that fall is the time to improve and practice skills, even at the races.
The women’s varsity eight placed third in their race, 15 seconds behind winner Georgetown and five seconds behind second-place Water Street Rowing, a local crew club.
Beating Georgetown, who also beat GW last year at the Head of the Potomac, is always motivation for GW. This year was no different.
“Although we lost to Georgetown, I thought it was a good race for the women,” Peterson said, explaining that Georgetown has had more practice time. “I know we have the stronger athletes . next time will be different.”
GW’s second boat took fifth place on the second race of the day. Georgetown grabbed another first-place finish as Navy and two club teams followed close behind.
“Just like the varsity, we were under-stroking the other crews. That is an obvious sign of a lack of water time,” Peterson said.
In GW’s last race, the women’s four, GW entered two teams, which placed third and eighth, respectively. Peterson said the third place finish was significant because the first four, Molly Hueller, Regina Cambilargiu, Kristen Salman, Brynn Kowlaski and coxswain Liz Bissinger, beat top crews from Navy and Georgetown.
“Navy is expected to be strong this year, and for our women to knock them off with this little time on the water bodes well for our crew,” Peterson said.
Varsity rower Christine Keeves said she was eager to see what the team can do this year.
“I’m excited about the season. There are a lot of returning people and we also have a great coach,” teammate Crystal Moore added.
Peterson said the team’s goal is to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
“I think we could do very well. We have really good athletes on the team and they are more experienced than last year,” he said. “There is enough raw talent on the team to place very high and only time will tell how we do.”
During the winter off-season the team will train for its spring meets, including the GW Invitational, the Colonials’ home meet. Varsity coxswain Mya Danilowitz said she has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“We’re going to try and go all out and hold nothing back,” she said. “We set goals and standards for each race. This gives us marks to strive for and achieve.”