The News Page: Crash B's 2006

The Lower Merion squad sent its top erg scores up to compete at the indoor World Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Training for this began months prior with rowing 4 days a week on the erg and a day of running each week. After making a time standard, depending on each athletes natural weight class, the eligible athletes traveled to Boston to compete.

It was a long journey, both figuratively training since December, and literally as it took nearly 8 hours to get to Boston. As the athletes found out, Coach Brian's least favorite city to drive to is Boston because, without a doubt, he always gets lost. However, this year seemed to be shaping up differently. With the guidance of Assistant Coach Kate Freeland, we made it to the hotel with minimal complications. Coach Zach Ben-Dov followed behind. Each athlete was assigned a roommate and given the rules and lights out time. This is always interesting because, as a coach, you always expect the worst-- no matter what-- someone is going to push the rules a little. This group, however, realized the importance of everything and lights were actually out early.

On February 25, 2006, it was race day! The day began with a 7:30am wake up knock from the coaches and an erg, dragged along for the trip, to warm up on. Breakfast was provided by the lovely Dunkin Donuts next to the hotel and then it was off to face the best in the world for the next few hours. We arrived at the Agganis Arena of Boston University. As much as I would love to tell the parents that we got to see Boston University, I would be lying. 99% of the tour was from the van as we passed through it getting to the arena. The arena was huge and intimidating with bags being searched at the door and thousands of people already at the event. Once we registered it was time to find our seats in the arena and weigh-in the lightweights. The arena was enormous and very much like walking into a slightly smaller version of the Spectrum in Philadelphia. There were athletes, coaches, college recruiters, National Team athletes from all different nations and age classes, parents, friends, and anyone interested in the sport of rowing. If the athletes were not intimidated their coach sure was, but I couldn't show it for fear it would have unnerved them.

The first event of the day for the LM athletes was the Men's Lightweight events, followed by the Women's Lightweight events. There was a slight break for the athletes to watch the Elite Lightweight Men and Women of the United States, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Italy battle for the World Championship in their category. Then the Heavyweight Men and Open Weight Women finished off the day for the Lower Merion Team.

Each athlete placed him/herself on an erg on the arena floor, looking up into a couple hundred red padded seats. Spectators had gathered to watch them race on huge monitors set up to show how each person was doing. Each erg was represented on the screen as a small yellow boat and showed the progression of each athlete per stroke compared with those he or she was competing against. However nice this was for the spectator, the athlete was sitting on a machine that was going to put them through a battle and maybe even a war, depending on each athlete's true goal, how much determination they had to achieve that goal, and how hard they were pushing their physical capabilities to achieve it. The monitor on the erg showed the usual information, the time for the athlete and how fast he or she was pulling each stroke. But there was a new bit of information that it showed as well. These ergs showed who was in the lead, who was directly in front of you and who was directly behind you and by how much. It also showed your placement in the heat of your race. A little unnerving to some of the most seasoned rowers. Imagine knowing if someone is 4 meters in front of you and knowing that if you take the 5 hard strokes at that moment to catch the competitor it could cost you in the end. WHAT DO YOU DO?!!

Our athletes came in so mentally and physically prepared that most of them did not even look at that until they needed to. They had each made their own race plan. Each of them stuck to their own race plan no matter how it was going, which is the most important thing. Looking at what each athlete did on each of their pieces, none of them had a bad outcome. Some people pulled personal bests! We use this as a training tool for the upcoming season. When these athletes sit on the line at Stotesbury or Nationals, they will have the experience of dealing with the nerves that come with it. They will be able to rise above it and compete at the best level. It was truly exciting to see these athletes rise to the challenge as each of them have done throughout the winter season.

Competitors in order of finish on the team in their categories:

Lightweight Women: Ruth Mandelbaum (Personal Best Time), Michal Trope, Mia Cava

Lightweight Men: Ryan Nalls, Will Frey (Personal Best Time), Steve Krajewski, Chris Policastro (Personal Best Time)

Open Weight Women: Rebecca Reicherter, Kajsa Thompson (Personal Best Time)

Heavyweight Men: Kevin Friedlande,r Matthew Meier (Personal Best Time)

Coxswains selected to go and help with coxing and logistics were: Patricia Nguyen, Mike Abrams

Most of these personal best times were by a large amount of time. Ranging from 1 second to as much as 8 seconds. Congratulations to all of these athletes for performing and racing against the best! Now lets raise the level!!