A long stretch of water sits in between two shores; the water is clear and calm. To many observers this would be a serene scene, but to the members of Club 4 and Club 8 Crew Teams at Tech, this is the location of intense and exciting memories. For junior Adam McKenzie, Crew has become much more than just a simple past time.
“My best friends are all from the rowing team,” McKenzie said. “This is my friend group at Tech. Whether they’re still rowing or not, I met them through rowing.”
But beneath the surface, this is a sport much harder than most people realize. The long, painful practices; the stiff knees and calloused hands; all are a product of a training regimen designed to help peak an athlete on race day. The end goal is the May regatta, the event that takes nine months of preparation and sweat.
“It’s not the three or four months of fall season, a month for Christmas and three or four months of spring season,” McKenzie noted. “It’s nine months straight through with that goal in mind.”
At its core, the sport is simple. It consists of either four or eight rowers rowing in sync down a predetermined stretch of water.
The boat is comprised of various rowers of different strengths and skill sets, including some smaller rowers who help with endurance and precision and some more muscular rowers who help with steering and power.
At the front of each boat is a member of the rowing team named the coxswain. This member is vital to the success of the boat and is the eyes and ears of the operation.
“The coxswain’s job is to be able to say we need to fix this or do that when the coach isn’t around. If a coxswain can do that, they are immediately extremely valuable. The coxswain is looking forward, steering the boat, and making sure he takes the quickest route possible. He yells stuff at us that can motivate us and tells us what to fix,” McKenzie said.
That motivation is something that keeps McKenzie going through the tough crew season, and the seniors on the team are what keeps the program strong year in and year out. McKenzie can personally attest to the impact a senior can have on a younger rower, and he has become close with rowers on the team both older and younger.
“Coming across [the finish line], one of the seniors in the boat turned around, shook my hand, and said ‘I really wish you’d been here two years ago.’ He’ll be a friend of mine for the rest of my life,” McKenzie said.
In a race predicated on speed and determination, that marks the only time anyone will have time to turn around.