Competitive rowing season is approaching, as the grueling winter workout practices have concluded and spring season awaits. IU’s first taste of true competition comes in less than two weeks April 1, when it will participate in a double dual in Bloomington against Louisville, Michigan State and Kansas.
Before then, the Hoosiers needed to make sure they were prepared to face the steep competition by using their annual spring break training trip in Tennessee. Senior rower Kaelin Blessinger has gone on this trip for the past four years.
Blessinger said this trip has become a tradition within IU rowing that the entire team relies on to improve its overall times. This is done with twice-daily, four-hour-long practices.
“It’s always a good marker to see where we are now versus where we have been in the past at this time,” Blessinger said. “At this time this year we’re as fast as we were at the end of the year last year, which is great considering we have been consistently going to NCAAs.”
During its time in Tennessee, IU also had a scrimmage against the Tennessee Volunteers. Graduate rower Emily Fekete said she believed the Hoosiers performed above expectations.
“It definitely went well for a lot of the boats," Fekete said. "We won a lot of the pieces and a lot of boats walked away from that really happy with their performance."
“Pieces” are race simulations where the rowers race as fast as possible to build endurance for real competition.
The rowers said the pieces were helpful for IU to get the team acclimated because it hasn’t had any official races since the beginning of November. Winter workouts have filled most of the time since then, and Fekete said she was thankful for the spring season to begin.
“Everyone’s adrenaline was definitely up,” Fekete said. “Fall racing is exciting too, but spring racing is something we really live for in this sport, and the trip was great way to start off the season.”
While the team has been excited to start the season, the coaching staff decided to shake things up from previous seasons. Freshman Megan Berry said each class of rowers made both serious and parody videos to boost team morale.
“We made some videos to work together in a different way outside of the sport since cooperation is key,” Berry said. “Just being able to work together in all aspects is really helpful.”
Blessinger said everybody enjoyed watching the videos because all the rowers were able to see each other’s true personalities come out and said it’s something the team will definitely continue in the future.
Of the 58 rowers on the team, 35 of are underclassmen that have had less experience with competitive rowing. Blessinger said the trip is always helpful for younger riders who can watch and learn from veteran teammates.
Berry, Blessinger and Fekete all stressed the importance of getting to spend time with their teammates outside practice and scrimmages. Blessinger also said the time spent together and improved team chemistry helps their overall performance on the lake.
Heading into her last season with the team, Blessinger said she has one thing she’s looking forward to for this year’s Hoosiers — speed.
“I’m ready to see how fast this team can go,” Blessinger said. “I know we have been thinking that we might not be as fast as last year. However, we’re just as fast as last year and still getting faster everyday.”
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