Women’s rowing focuses on speed after early-season wins

Media Credit: Dean Whitelaw | Photographer

The women's rowing team sits in the boat during the GW Invite Saturday.

Women’s rowing has won back-to-back regattas as it gets into the swing of the spring schedule.

Head coach Marci Robles said the Colonials are using the team’s upcoming regattas to train for the conference championship in May. Despite their two wins, Robles said the squad has “more speed to be found” on the water if they want to stack up well against competitors.

“We’ve got a little over a month to look for some more speed, but it’s there and we know it,” she said. “We know that there are things that we can be better at, but there’s a lot of confidence in our ability to do that.”

GW competed in just one regatta last fall before a winterlong break in the team’s schedule. The Colonials kicked off the spring season at the Murphy Cup Regatta in New Jersey in March before hosting five competitors at the GW Invitational this weekend.

The Colonials’ Varsity 8 boat placed a program-high third at the Murphy Cup Regatta with a 7:26.02 time on the Schuylkill River last season. But this year the team came in last at the same regatta, despite finishing with a 6:57.03 time in the Grand Final, nearly 30 seconds faster than its mark last season.

The team’s fastest time at the GW Invitational this year was one second faster than its time last season at the regatta on the Potomac River. Despite the overall increase in speed, some of the Colonials’ finishing times were more than 10 seconds slower than their closest competitors.

The Colonials got a taste of Atlantic 10 competition in their last two regattas. The Colonials entered the spring season coming off a program-best showing at the A-10 Championship after GW notched a third-place finish last year.

The Colonials bested A-10 opponents Saint Joseph’s and Duquesne at the GW Invitational but were defeated by Rhode Island, the defending conference champion. GW garnered four wins over the weekend and outpaced La Salle at the Murphy Cup last month.

“This is where we expected to be in comparison to those crews and knowing that that’s where we are,” Robles said. “I think we’ve got a good sense of what we need to do better going forward.”

The team now has one month and three regattas left before the league finals. Robles said the team’s monthslong offseason training has put the Colonials in position to start improving the small details of their races to put together more consistent showings on the water.

“The focus has been on what’s in front of us and what we can do day-to-day,” Robles said. “Every time we’re out there, each stroke is another opportunity.”

Senior Audrey Herberger said the Colonials focused on the technical ways they can improve, like using a more aggressive swing, to narrow the gap between competitors.

“We just say all the other boats are really just information, it’s just to see where we are,” Herberger said.

As part of their preparation for the league championship, Herberger said the Colonials have been training through regatta weekends instead of tapering before competition, as they had done in past years.

“We’re using these racing weekends and we’re training right through them, we’re not stopping volume, we’re not stopping competitive speed beforehand,” Herberger said.

Sophomore Laila Shehab, who rowed in the first Varsity 8 boat at the GW Invitational, said the Colonials focused on speeding up in the final 500 meters of the race, where most teams falter on the course.

Shehab said the Colonials used contests against teams like Rhode Island, which beat GW in all three head-to-head meetings, to focus on improving. With one month left before the A-10 Championship, she said the squad will continue building on their training to place themselves in the best position for success next month.

“We’re not going to change what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep on making the good technical changes that we can and little by little, inch by inch, get to A-10s,” Shebab said. “Because races are won by inches.”

The Colonials return to action Saturday at the Cherry Hill Invite in New Jersey.

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