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Men's Crew | Larger crew seeks to improve eights program

Jumbos change mindset, bid farewell to 5 a.m. practices

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 02:03

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Kristen Collins / The Tufts Daily

With a large freshman class, the men’s crew team will focus more heavily on its eights program this spring than it has in the past.

The men’s crew team knows what it means to be dedicated in the preseason: bi−monthly fitness testing, three−a−days and the annual “Judgment Day,” a full day of workouts beginning at 4 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. This past week, the Jumbos finished their spring training by spending every moment together as a cohesive unit, both on the water and off.

“We spend all week as a team on campus — eating, sleeping and rowing, erging, running and racing — three times a day for seven days,” sophomore co−captain Ben Kane said. “It was an incredible week for the team — we just slept, ate and pushed our limits, both individually and as a program.”

With three silver medals from October’s Head of the Fish Regatta under its belt and a solid work ethic driving the rowers, the team is looking to kick off the season strong at Tulane this Saturday. Last year’s novice coach, Don Angus, has taken over the head coaching position, while former head coach Jay Britt will assume the novice coaching position. The move was made so that Angus could remain with his novice rowers from last year who have made the step up to varsity.

It appears that, with the arrival of more rowers, the coaching staff has altered its strategy. In the last four years, the Jumbos have seen success in their fours program, but with a small team, victories in the eights program have been harder to come by. This year, a large freshman class has been training hard since the fall to give the eights a boost and the captains expect the rookies to supply fast times and medals this season.

“The overall direction of the men’s program has changed with the coaching staff change and the changing dynamics of the team composition this year,” senior co−captain Chris Park said. “Whereas in previous years we’ve had more success with the fours, now the team is rebuilding with a bigger crew and the coaching staff is seeking to strengthen our eights program. We’ve remained small since late 2008, and so it was hard to build a good eights program.”

This year, the Jumbos will not only be shifting their competitive focus, but also their training schedule, realizing that early−morning practices might be detrimental to their performance.

“In rowing, having practice at five in the morning is an element of special pride and tradition,” Park said. “However, when we realized that we were sacrificing athletes’ sleep, and that made it hard for them to keep up with academics and athletic performance, we made the decision to change our program to accommodate two afternoon practices a week.”

In a perfectionist’s sport, the tiniest slip in balance or timing can add costly seconds to a finishing time, and the Jumbos know that everyone will need to be at their best to have a successful season.

“A boat is literally as fast as the least powerful seat on it,” Park said.

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