This season, the McLean Women’s Crew Team has become a formidable opponent within the world of Virginia rowing. For the first time in years, every boat, not just the varsity eight, has been consistently successful throughout the season, with all but two boats qualifying for nationals at State Championships in the beginning of May.
“We haven’t been as successful ever as we have this year… in the categories that we’re racing in this has been the most successful [McLean has] been,” head coach Bianca Arrington said.
Other years,the 1st varsity boat was the only boat that consistently did well. This has changed this year, with all boats from McLean doing well, at every race.
“Everyone’s fast, everyone is placing,” junior coxswain Grace Lee said.
On May 2, the third and novice level boats got their chance at qualifying for nationals. Competing against nationally ranked crews, both boats fought hard, with the third varsity eight winning their race and bringing home the title, State Champions.
“The 3v has done consistently well in every race, top three in every race [that] they have been in,” assistant coach Danielle Holstrom said.
On May 9, the first and second level boats sought to follow the third varsity eight to victory, with both boats qualifying for finals and the top varsity eight placing second, earning them a spot at the SRAA National Championships Regatta.
“Last year we realized for the first time that we may be a fast boat and this year we expected…to be better,” Lee said.
With both boats rowing their way past semifinals, the second level boat beat the odds persevering despite numerous technical problems leading up to and during the race. With missing equipment, malfunctions, and an injured rower the boat gave no signs of defeat and placed third in their heat and sixth at their finals.
“At the last part, when we were sprinting, I was sure that we were going to qualify for finals,” sophomore rower Mimi Comer said “we’ve gone back and forth between placing and not placing.”
During the race two rowers faced a malfunction that made it harder for them to row. Their shoes came loose which impedes the ability to row. However, the two managed to get back into the racing mindset in time to help the boat row into finals.
“It was very stressful because my feet came out of the foot stretcher, it was hard staying in time with everyone and I had to focus on my technique,” Comer said.
The road to the Crew team’s victory began long before the spring season, with intensive winter training occurring since November.
“We like to say that you win races in the fall… [you] pay with your sweat really” Holstrom said.
Both coaches and rowers see these months of hard work as huge part of their success in the spring.
“Its very important to stay fit during the winter because that’s when most teams lose it…a lot of teams don’t have such a strict schedule with winter conditioning…we do and it really helps us improve for the spring,” Comer said.
Despite the intensive training schedule, the women’s team tries to incorporate some fun into practice, making it an event to look forward to.
“The attitude of the team this year is just really good, we like to have a nice balance of goofing off as much as getting the work done, we have a good time…but when it’s time for work its time to work,” Arrington said.
Trust, dedication, and the drive to win are all qualities rowers use to fuel themselves, without which, success is impossible.
“You can’t get more of a teamwork centered sport as crew,” Arrington said. “With rowing you have to be 100% in sync with everyone else in the boat, you have to be mentally in the same place, you have to be physically in the same place.”
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