Coaches’ Journal: Henley Regattas 2013

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June 30, 2013

By: Hugh McKeegan – (1st year, Trinity College ’10), Assistant Men’s Coach

Not much to report today – our crews had the day off, and most of the guys went into London, so my schedule was pretty light. Between walking into town to get lunch and going out for dinner with the coaches from Trinity College, Hartford (my alma mater), I barely managed to squeeze in a three hour nap.

The last couple of days, though, have been eventful. With the city of Reading a short(ish) row upstream, and the competition there taking place on Saturday, we had both crews take a nice swing row up the Thames to the regatta staging site. Keegan and Peter, who competed in the 2- and the 2x, rowed up Friday afternoon, while the 8+, whose lone race wasn’t scheduled until early in the evening, went up to Reading just before lunch on Saturday.

Normally, for us, rowing from one staging sight to another (i.e. the boathouse to the proving grounds) isn’t too tricky – you basically point the boat in the right direction and go until you get to where you need to be. On the Thames, however, the crews had to navigate a series of locks as they made their way upstream. I was to travel with them on bike, following the tow path, just in case. The 2- and I would then return to Henley by train on Friday, and, on Saturday, we’d all head back down stream via lock and tow path.

To make a long story short, I paid attention to a “no bicycles” sign on Friday (which a friendly man in a kayak later told me only foreigners and tourists heed), wound up on the “main” road between Reading and Henley (which was terrifying to bike, at about 1.5 lanes wide and with every car ripping by at 60+ kph), overshot the regatta site by about two miles, finally managed to catch up with the 2x, then got on the wrong train (Wokingham is just lovely this time of year), and still made it back in time for Coach B’s ginormous pasta dinner.

Saturday went a little smoother (which I guess isn’t saying much). The trip to Reading with the 8+ was a piece of cake (I enjoyed saying hello to all of the other cyclists on the “no bicycles allowed” footpath), and the regatta itself was a fun event. Our guys posted a nice margin on the crew from Trinity (still not entirely sure how happy I am about that…) and collected some pretty fancy tankards for winning.

Taco volunteered to ride the bike and I ran the roughly eight miles back to Henley. With the lock operators gone for the evening (they punch out at six o’clock; we didn’t hit the first lock until after seven), Taco and I (with a little help from the locals and only a half hour of frustrated button mashing at the first lock) managed to get the 8+ through all three using the self-service controls. Keegan and Peter, who departed ahead of the rest of the group, wisely chose to portage their shell and beat the 8+ back to Henley by about an hour.

With fish and chips for dinner, everyone went out for dessert before calling it a night. The guys will have plenty of interesting things to report from the day in London, I’m sure. That being said, while winning at Reading and having Sunday off (and all of the attendant shenanigans) was a nice way to end our prep week, the real racing begins on Wednesday. The guys are ready. This trip will only get better.

June 22, 2013

By: Alyssa O’Donnell – (1st year, Nova Southeastern University ’12 ), Varsity
Assistant Coach

What a fast paced couple days it has been! So much has happened in so little time. The plane ride over was nice and smooth. Got a pretty good meal on the plane, a bowl of pasta, some salad, a cookie and some other tasty snacks. I think we were all happy that we had a turbulence free ride and it was nice that almost everyone had a buddy near them on the 8 hour flight.

Arriving in London was pretty surreal, being my first trip overseas; I had a lot of anticipation. We all were holding our breath a bit, hoping no ones luggage would be lost and all was collected, with a sigh of relief.

On Monday we got to travel and sight see in London! Coach Kelsey, Chris and I tag teamed and wandered about London to the different sites. We ended up going on the London Eye, which was pretty incredible. Seeing the whole city from such a high point was beautiful, took tons of photos. We also went in the Sea Life aquarium! That was awesome! We saw tons of sharks, sea turtles, penguins, all sorts of fish and stingrays and some neat jellyfish and sea horses!

Now that we are a couple days into training were getting to business. Yesterday was their first row on the Thames and they all seemed to have pretty decent rows. We were happy to hear this after rigging and adjusting rented boats from other crews. It’s great when the athletes say that the boats feel just like or better than the ones from home. That’s what we were looking for.

As a coach, what I’m looking forward to the most is the whole Henley experience. Seeing all the other crews, being part of such a huge regatta, competing against international crews and seeing how our rowers fare. It’s all so exciting and I’m definitely getting eager for race day.

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