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ND Women’s Rowing: Team improves in Tennesee

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Like many of their peers, the Irish rowers headed for warmer waters during spring break. In lieu of a week of relaxation, Notre Dame spent its time in Oak Ridge, Tenn. training for the spring season and logging much-needed miles in racing situations.

The Irish won eight of ten pieces March 13 in a scrimmage against Alabama and Minnesota. The races consisted of only 1500-meter heats as opposed to the normal 2000-meter distance. They also incorporated running starts, in which the boats achieved a head of steam before beginning, and capped ratings, where the stroke rate of the crews was limited.

Despite the informal nature of the event, Irish coach Martin Stone said the scrimmage against two quality opponents helped his team shake off some rust and put their practice into action.

“It was our first time in the water in a while,” Stone said. “We had to race an Alabama team that has been in the water for a while and a Minnesota team that is very formidable. It was a good test. We were ready to race, we executed well. The things we wanted to focus on technique-wise and race-wise, we were right on it.”

Although the scrimmage allowed plenty of mixing and matching, Stone kept the varsity eight boats’ lineups static. He said this would not prevent things from changing, however.

“It gives you an indication of where we can go from there,” Stone said of the ability to experiment with different pieces. “There was some switching in the 4’s, but our first and second varsity eight pieces remained the same. That said, our lineup evolves over the course of the year. If someone is getting stronger or faster and racing better, she can work her way into a better boat.”

Building on the success of the scrimmage, the Irish took four of five races from Buffalo Saturday, competing in the more traditional regular-season style. After falling to Buffalo in the varsity four matchup, the Irish claimed victory in the second race of the day, a come-from-behind victory from their second varsity eight boat.

The strong showing on the final portion of the race came as a surprise to Stone, who said his squad focused more on this portion of the race during practice. Stone also said the victory will help his team as the season progresses.

“We had not worked on the first quarter of the race at all in practice,” he said. “We just didn’t spend a lot of time on it because we focused on other aspects. The other three quarters worked out well. It helps us get stronger and gives us confidence that we can win any race.”