To learn more about Willy Cowles, this month’s contributor to the Open Sculling Program Report, please click here and scroll down. You’ll find bios for the rest of the current Open Sculling Program team there, as well!
In the meantime, we’re pulling for you back here at PBC, Willy! Best of luck at the U.S. Training Center in Chula Vista!
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May was a very busy month for members of the PBC open sculling team, with invitations to the National Selection Regatta (NSR) II and potential National Team boat camp invitations up for grabs. The prior month, we had marked the beginning of our summer racing season, taking our singles up to Princeton for NSR I. We experienced some mixed weather conditions at NSR I and some mixed results, but in May, with only three weeks separating the two NSR’s, we had to move quickly to find 2x combinations.
NSR I and II, which happen every April and May, are the primary races through which National Team selection occurs. For scullers, NSR I means racing the single. The winner of this regatta earns the opportunity to go to a World Cup in Europe as the U.S. Single Sculler, and, provided he or she finish in the top 4, retains this spot as the U.S. Single Sculler going into World Championships at the end of the summer. The same is true of NSR II, except that the second regatta also holds the opportunity to earn invitations to boat camps. While the winner of the 2x at NSR II can also go to a World Cup, anywhere from one to three or four “runners up” can be invited to the Quad camp, a National Team selection camp where invitees try to earn a spot in the 4x.
After NSR II, nine Potomac athletes, along with three rowers from other clubs (USTC-OKC, Pocock Rowing Club, and GMS Rowing Center) ran both a men’s and a women’s doubles matrix that produced three men’s and three women’s doubles. I paired up with Mike Sivigny, a rower from GMS in Connecticut, and split the weeks between NSRs between DC and Connecticut. After three weeks of hard training, we arrived in Princeton ready to race. After time trials, heats, and semis, my double ended up with a spot in the A Final. We had our work cut out for us, with three current U.S. National Rowing team boats in the final, as well as strong entries from Penn AC and the 2009 U.S. National team double.
Mike and I knew that our strength lay in our endurance, and we were able, according to our race plan, to walk from 6th to 4th in the second thousand of the race. Although we were disappointed to lose to the third place crew by only seven tenths of a second, we still felt we raced well. Other Potomac crews raced well, too. Kevin Baum and Taylor Frank pushed a strong last 500 to a 4th place finish in the B Final. Joe Ledvina and Austin Nichols came in second in the C Final. On the women’s side, Stephanie Kuzsocek and Meghan George placed 6th in the A final, Morgan Wimberley and Katie Stainken third in the B Final, and Maria Bokulich and Malyka Iyanni third in the C Final.
Based on a combination of NSR I and NSR II performances, as well as erg scores, I was lucky enough to be invited to Quad camp at the ARCO U.S. Training Center in Chula Vista, California. I have been here for almost two weeks so far, and have already pulled seven all-out 2ks (one on the erg). It has been quite a learning experience. The camp includes selection for the 4x, as well as for the 8+ and 4- on the sweep side, so as you can imagine, racing has been fierce. The National team coaches use camps like these to seat race athletes against one another, trying to find the fastest combinations in all boats. They will test whatever combinations come out first at the third World Cup in Lucerne, and later at World Championships in Bled, Slovenia. This year, the pre-Olympic year, placement at Worlds is particularly important because a finish in the top 11 means qualification for the 2012 Olympics in London. Racing promises to continue to be intense and I hope to be able to continue to work hard and try to earn a spot on this year’s team, with an eye towards London in 2012.