McLean boys crew splashes through states

McLean earns medals across all boats


Photo courtesy of Paul Fabrycky

McLean's boys varsity 1 boat shows winning states is a team effort.

Camille Blakemore, Reporter

The McLean crew club. Some call it a club, some call it a cult, but whatever you call it, it’s certainly successful. The McLean boys’ season was a thrill to watch, with every team placing at states and doing well in many other regattas. 

“Our record was really great. This season, we went to more national regattas than just the Virginia ones. Last year, we were undefeated in Virginia, and graduated no one from our first boat,” said senior Paul Fabrycky, co-captain of the men’s varsity 1 boat. “So going into [this] season, our coach knew that we were going to be much more competitive.”

To continue to challenge the team, McLean sought out more competitive regattas this year.

“The crew team has been around for a really long time. But we used to compete in a lot of lightweight events, or smaller boats that only had two or four guys. That was often because we had a smaller number of really competitive rowers, or because we wanted to participate in less competitive categories.”

Luckily for Fabrycky, he’s not alone in his abilities this year. Given the team has a larger number of competitive rowers, they entered more competitive categories.

“This year, we entered three varsity eights, which is the most competitive category, [one] that shows the greatest depth of skill and talent on a team. The varsity eight for men and women is the premier event – more prestigious and seen as more important than any other category.”

McLean certainly handled the pressure- at the VSRA State Championship on May 11, men’s 1V rowed to 1st place. But they weren’t alone.

“Our second and our third varsity eights [also] won states as well this year,” Fabrycky said. “Additionally, our freshmen eight on the guys side won silver at state’s by just a few seconds. We had four more younger guys in our novice four that placed second at states by two seconds.”

Winning states can be an emotional event.

“[My favorite part of states was] definitely crossing the finish line. I felt ecstatic, and I’m sure everyone else felt the same way,” sophomore 3V rower John Butler-Basner said. “There were some guys in the team that cried.”

This year, states was a team-wide triumph for McLean.

“[My favorite part of states] was probably seeing all of the guys once we’ve gotten back off the water. Seeing that every single one of the rowers there had a medal around their neck,” Fabrycky said. “Last year, winning states was more of a 1V guys thing that we were able to celebrate. But this year, it felt like an entire team wide achievement for both boys and the girls. That just shows incredible depth and commitment from the entire team. And it really felt like being part of a like a bigger collective that was all working towards the same goal.”

All in all, McLean had a powerhouse season. But that only makes the departing seniors have even more confidence in the abilities of the underclassmen and their ability to represent McLean well.

“There was a time where we were worried that once this current group of seniors that’s been so successful and fundamental to the program leaves that the team would not be as good,” Fabrycky said. “After states this year, [though], that really gave us and our coach a lot of confidence in the team’s future.”

Next year, Fabrycky plans to continue rowing as a recruit for Tufts University in Boston. McLean Crew’s reputation is easily evident when looking at the prestigious programs to which rowers have been accepted. Men’s crew has two recruits attending Cornell University, as well as Fabrycky. On the women’s side, McLean rowers will continue their careers at Fordham University, West Virginia University, and Catholic University in D.C.

It takes a lot of hard work to earn one of those prestigious positions.

“[I’ve been doing crew] since my freshman year,” Fabrycky said. “It’s taken most of my time, but all the guys and and the girls I know from it are my best friends. It’s my entire life.”

As Fabrycky describes, crew may be a bubble, but it’s a positive one.

“[My favorite part of crew itself] I would say is the cult culture behind it. That’s not necessarily a negative aspect- everyone’s there for each other,” Butler-Basner said. “There’s an attitude that everyone has to be there and show up, putting their individual work in to succeed as a team.”