What’s the deal with… the rowers in front of Funger?

In a town like D.C., there are lots of places for tourists to stop, stare and photograph – including in front of and atop Funger Hall on G Street.

Curtis Batts, a sophomore and a member of the crew team, said it is not uncommon for tourists to stop and take pictures while he and his teammates condition on the terrace of Funger using row machines.

“They’ll say ‘what the hell are you doing?'” Batts said.

In the winter, when the temperatures can get brutal and other sports teams retreat indoors, the men’s crew team conditions in the bitter outdoors in front of Funger Hall.

Because of the intensity of their practices, the overbearing heat in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center and the proximity of Funger, crew team coach Greg Myhr said that holding practice on top of Funger is their best alternative.

“It’s close to where we store the rowing gear and it’s the closest leveled service that’s nearby,” Myhr said. “For the most part I think we’re out of everybody’s way, which is rare in this city.”

The Lerner Health and Wellness Center serves as an outlet for indoor practicing when the temperatures outside are not suitable for practice, Myhr said, but after a strenuous hour of rowing, the temperatures inside simply are not optimal.

“The guys generate a ton of heat when they’re on those machines,” Myhr said. “For some of the longer stuff that we do they really have a tendency to overheat in normal temperatures indoors.”

When addressing how cold is just too cold to be outside, Myhr said rowing is “comparable or even more strenuous than something like cross country skiing. You have to be pretty darn cold to be too cold to row.”

Batts agreed with Myhr that practicing indoors is not ideal for a crew team workout.

“When we’re in the gym it’s incredibly hot,” Batts said. “When there’s like 20 or 30 guys working out to their maximum velocity in one room it heats up real quick. So it’s nice to be outside.”

Batts said rowing outside is more realistic to crew because when they compete they are always outside on the water breathing in fresh air as opposed to hot, muggy, gym air.

The team rows for about an average of six minutes when they compete, Batts said, but during practice, they typically row for an hour each practice. During crew season, the team can practice as many as six times a week and sometimes twice a day.

Senior Pete Magee, the team’s captain, said practicing outdoors is definitely more beneficial for the team.

“Physically (practicing indoors) kills you and mentally it’s just an extra burden that you have to deal with,” he said. “I know we make a bit of a scene every time we’re out there but we prefer that as opposed to dealing with inside Hell Well. The benefits of being outside far outweigh the drawbacks.”

Practicing outdoors also helps the team mentally cope with distractions that may arise during a competition.

“It’s a lot about ignoring people and blocking out some of the outside factors,” Magee said about crew. “There are some days when the temperature outside is a little on the chilly side, but it’s just another thing you have to block out.”

Batts, MaGee and Myhr said that the team does not mind causing a scene. When they get on those rowing machines, conditioning is all they are thinking about.

“It’s funny, every now and then someone will walk by and yell at them from the street, but they don’t really react to it,” Myhr said of his team. “I’ll look and laugh, but the guys that are training don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about it.”

Sophomore Cameron Chong said he is used to seeing the crew team practicing in front of Funger.

“It’s kind of like once you see it a couple of times you get used to it,” he said. “It’s like ‘oh look, the crew team’s out again.'”

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