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Dartmouth Crew Spring Training Trip Blog

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The Dartmouth crew teams will spend spring break training in Oak Ridge, Tenn., as they prepare for the start of the 2012 competitive season. Members of the Big Green squad will be sharing their journey through blog posts throughout the trip. Make sure to check in to see what the Dartmouth crew teams are up to. 

Go Big Green!

Headed to Oak Ridge

The day we have all been waiting for is finally here: the thrilling commencement of our 1,000-mile journey known as the "Bus Ride to Tennessee". Let's take a look at some of the highlights of the first day of the trip from Hanover to Winchester, VA.

Hour 0: In preparation for the competitive nature of our training down in Oak Ridge, the scramble for the best spots on the bus provides an opportunity to practice fighting for your seat.

 Hour 3: Common ways to pass the time on the bus include sleeping, reading, and starting to wonder how soon we're going to get there. Rowing News and bags of cookies are passed around one bus, and the Lord of the Rings marathon commences on the other.

 Hour 5: Dartmouth Rowing invades the food court at a mall in the middle of Connecticut, supplying the most business they've ever had at 11:30 in the morning on a Wednesday. We savor our time on solid ground before hopping back on the bus with full stomachs. Nap time!

Hour 10: We finally arrive at our overnight destination, Winchester, VA. After evaluating the local cuisine for dinner options, we discover IHOP. Their Lorax-themed kids' menu brings a bit of Dartmouth to Winchester. A quick night's sleep in a real bed and then we hit the road again at 7AM tomorrow. Oak Ridge, here we come!

Sarah Cohan - Women's Crew

Training Time

As we began the second full day of training, the weather prediction, as well as the thoughts of seat racing for some, made for a weary forecast. Because we've put in many meters and hours of training over the winter, it seems that everyone is anxiously waiting to see how much speed we can produce.  Today's first fleet of rowers headed out at 7 a.m. sharp, only to find the race course taken over by an ominous fog that rendered the rowers invisible to the coaches. For the women's team, seat racing was postponed as margins would have been indecisive, and did some drilling and easy swinging instead. 

While we thought we left the unpredictable, gloomy weather of Hanover behind, right before the second practice, the skies promptly opened up, allowing for copious amounts of water to collect in the boats throughout practice. Thankfully, the afternoon forecast offered us something to be optimistic about. The sun was out and shining, allowing for everyone to receive more Vitamin D in two hours than we have collectively had in the past three months. Two shifts of practices came and went, and we completed the first over-the-gunnel switches of this trip. Molly Reckford '15 commented on the seat racing, saying "During the pieces, it made me realize again why I loved rowing." And that in itself is exactly why we are here.

Morgan Weller - Women's Crew

The Real Deal

TIME TO TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN!!!!!!!! Days four and five in Oak Ridge, Tenn., have been sunshine central! Spirits are up, as are the speeds of the three squads as seat racing commences. It's been all-out intra-squad competition down here south of the Mason-Dixon line and only the red-hot temperatures have matched the red hot racing! Boat selection will continue for another couple of days, providing opportunities for contenders to show their stuff and excellent entertainment for the coaches. 

 Speaking of entertainment, all the squads have had a half-day off over the last two days and many members of both squads have used that time to go see 21 Jump Street, the new Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill comedy that hit theaters Friday. Despite being a completely pointless movie, it did provide a few hours of mindless entertainment in a dark, cool theater. Rowers were able to take their minds off of seat racing and technical deficiencies and also recover a little from the strenuous rows of the previous few days. Channing Tatum was a hit with the women's crew and the toilet humor was much appreciated by nearly all members of the men's teams. The Dartmouth rowing club gives this flick two thumbs up!

When not recovering from rows in movie theaters or their beds, the rowers have spent their down time chatting in the hotel lobby, evening out their tans to eliminate uni-suit lines, and sampling the local cuisine. Favorites so far have been Panera Bread, preferred by the women and lightweights, and then pretty much every fast food restaurant on the strip near the hotel, preferred by the heavies. Milkshakes from Chick-Fil-A are quite popular, as is the Napa Almond Chicken Salad sandwich from Panera. This Monday night was extra special for the seniors and coaches, who went to the Flat Water Grill on the racecourse and pigged out on some high quality entrees and desserts. Many in the party chowed down on filet mignon, followed by the chocolate lava dessert. It was a delicious evening for the Dartmouth rowing club.

Walmart has also been a Dartmouth rowing club haven, supplying the rowers with snack food and breakfast items. Walmart is fresh out of bananas, thanks to us, and we've also put a sizeable dent in their Powerbar supply. With seat racing continuing, fear is spreading amongst the teams of a banana and energy bar famine. Walmart hasn't seen business like this since the Cuban missile crisis. In addition to supplying the teams with energy, Walmart has also been a source of entertainment for some oarsmen. "Big John" Strizich purchased himself a kite and was enjoying his afternoon off today, flying it around the hotel parking lot. He looked 12 years old again (albeit a 6'8" 12 year old).

Welp, off to bed for me. Seat racing continues tomorrow morning at 7:00 and 8:45am for the lightweights and then again at 3:00pm. Gotta get my beauty sleep!

Ian Accomando - Men's Lightweight Crew

Almost Time to Head Home

As the end of the trip becomes visible, with only two days left here in Oak Ridge, the Dartmouth rowing squad starts to transition into higher rates and longer distances, tapping into that 2k speed on the water, building off of our winter training fitness.  With only nine days until the women and heavyweight men's first race, and sixteen for the lightweight's, focus and exhilaration have been on a steady increase over the past few days.  Seat racing reminds us all of the intensity and dedication required of each individual rower from every seat.  All squads have been taking advantage of the beautiful buoyed 2000-meter course down here at the training center, only adding to the enthusiasm for our first races.  Besides the occasional attack of thunder and lightening storms in the late afternoons, the weather couldn't be better, being 80 degrees and sunny.  Goodbye winter pasty whiteness.  Though we hear it has been quite nice up North recently too...

Last night the women's team went to Big Ed's for a night full of pizza and laughs.  A night together away from the hotel was great fun, sitting with teammates and coaches mixed together across the restaurant.  Getting a little taste of the culture here in Oak Ridge is always a fun part of our time spent down here, as outside of our busy rowing schedule, there aren't too many venues that you can walk to from the hotel, besides Walmart, the grocery store, and Panera.

 Over the past day or so, we have begun to transition back into eights, as we focus on finding our speed in lineups for next weekend's race against Columbia and Northeastern in Boston, MA.  There are still plenty switches to be made, but lineups are beginning to get sorted out.  Hard work is coming from every seat, and every seat makes us faster.  Before our long 20-hour trek home on Friday afternoon, it is going to be critical to establish comfort and effectiveness in our boats at higher rates, unseen to us for many, many months.  For when we return to Hanover, it will be right back to business in preparation for next weekend!

Louisa Harrison - Women's Crew

A Word From the Heavies

Last Thursday, after a 20-hour bus ride, the men's heavyweight rowing team arrived at the spring break Mecca known as Oak Ridge in remarkably high spirits. For those of you unfamiliar with the illustrious history of Oak Ridge, it was the location of the United States' primary uranium refining operation during World War II.  Not surprisingly rumors of toxicity abound; a local waiter told Reilly Bertasi '13 that the river teems with mutant Catfish the size of Volkswagens. However the local game warden maintains that the catfish aren't actually mutant, just ill tempered.

The duration of the first day in Oak Ridge was spent unloading all the boats, riggers, Geiger counters and HAZMAT suits that a successful training trip in Oak Ridge requires. Afternoon temperatures soared into the mid 70's and the heavyweights - perhaps not so begrudgingly - retired their t-shirts and shorts to the trailer before a leisurely row.  Afterward they departed for the hotel to fight over sleeping arrangements, hoard towels and designate certain areas as open-air hampers.

A hallmark of the first night in Oak Ridge is a wholesale pilgrimage to Wal-Mart. So they departed, half dressed like some J-Crew version of the Hell's Angels and the other half looking legitimately homeless. Saddled with $200 of per diem and the deleterious effects of sun poisoning, they were far from rational consumers during their annual retail binge. Purchases included high-end Transformer action figures, fully disposable wardrobes, air mattresses and enough Sunny D to float a battleship around. The heavies piled their haul into a fleet of temporarily borrowed shopping cars and turned tail just as a terrific thunderstorm rolled over the ridge and lit up the sky.

Friday found more nice weather and longer rows aimed at shaking off the rust and dust of a winter spent training indoors. "There's nothing like expanding your aerobic base and base tan at the same time," quipped Sam Seehof '13 with a mustachioed smile.

Hunter Dray -Men's Heavyweight Crew