Since women’s rowing head coach Marci Robles took over the program in August, her focus has been revamping the way her team approaches training.
Robles was hired in August after former head coach Eric Carcich resigned from the position in July. She said since taking over, she has been moving away from an approach that tries to hit a specific split time during training to one that emphasizes the big picture – controlling the workout and gradually getting faster during each practice.
“We are learning how to train and we are trying to train smarter,” Robles said. “We want to make sure that we are healthy and getting fitter together and getting faster together.”
The Princeton Chase regatta Sunday was Robles’ first opportunity to guide her team in action on race day, but the morning kicked off with a “disappointing” finish in the Varsity 8, followed by slight redemption in the Varsity 4 race.
The team placed 25th and 42nd in a field of 46 boats in the Varsity 8 race. In Varsity 4, the team came in 17th and 31st out of 36 boats.
“We responded well to a bit of a disappointing morning,” Robles said. “Half the athletes that competed in that specific event got to race again in the fours. The messaging was, we get better, we improve.”
The team does not have any more regattas scheduled for the fall season and will have months to hone in on their training strategy before taking the water for their regular season in the spring.
Carcich – who led the program for nine years – had already been steering the team in a positive direction when Robles was hired, she said.
The D.C.-native said she had known Carcich since he started coaching at GW and once she came aboard, she used him as a resource when crafting her training plan and working to continue the trajectory the team was on during his tenure.
Under Carcich last spring, GW finished with its best performance in program history at the Atlantic 10 Championship, placing third out of six teams.
Robles said her squad has an opportunity to finish better than they did last season, but that goal begins with training during this fall season.
“We are not far off from the second- and first-place teams,” Robles said. “If we are training in a way that’s smart, I think we could certainly create an opportunity for ourselves where we have a chance to win.”
Instead of making drastic changes to the program, Robles said her main focus has been to build on success the team already has had in an effort to “enhance that experience.”
Robles harps efficiency and effort at practice, a message that has resonated with her rowers, senior Valen Fey said.
“She has changed my outlook on training, and I think a lot of my teammates’ outlooks,” Fey said.
Fey took home a bronze medal while representing the United States in the women’s eight boat at the World University Rowing Championships in Shanghai over the summer.
Junior Lauren Uhlig said Robles pushes the mindset that student athletes should train like they race, which has been helpful in pushing the team to get faster at every practice, giving them insight into how they will perform on race day.
“We are not going to find out at A-10s how fast we are,” Uhlig said. “We are going to find out every single day.”
When Robles was first getting started, Fey said her fitness-centric training approach initially intimidated some of the team, but it has been the most important factor in laying the foundation for more technical, skill-based improvements in the future.
“She is going to push us, and I think that might have scared some of us,” Fey said. “But we’ve gotten to know her and realized that our intentions and her intentions both align.”
Robles said although there are no guarantees going forward, she is optimistic that if the team continues to buy into her training style in the offseason, they are poised to make a leap in the standings at the A-10 Championships in May.
“If we continue to do what we are doing now, I think we have a real chance to create that opportunity on May 18 to do what we want to do,” Robles said.
This article appeared in the November 1, 2018 issue of the Hatchet.