DETROIT, Mich. - The Detroit Boat Club Crew (DBCC) rounded out their unconventional spring season at the 2020 USRowing Youth Virtual National Championships with a strong 4th place finish in the Women’s Youth 8+:Weight Adjusted event. The DBCC women raced 2,000m in a time of 7:06.92, trailing behind Chicago, Texas Rowing Center, and Greenwich Crew.
The USRowing Youth National Championships, notoriously the pinnacle high school rowing event of the season, were completely re-imagined this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the organization’s decision to cancel water racing. USRowing adapted the event to make the races “virtual” and continued to allow athletes to compete for National titles in a way that could be deemed safe by health officials.
These races were battled out on rowing machines called ergometers, which can accurately register how fast each athlete is able to complete 2,000m of rowing. The top times from each qualifying crew were reported to USRowing, and placements were awarded accordingly.
The Detroit Boat Club was able to provide each athlete with their own ergometer, so they would be able to compete safely in their own homes. The rowers who reported scores for the Women’s 8+ were Isabelle Sawicki, Emma Troost, Alexandra Rollins, Keelin Dailey, Gwendolyn Sutton, Ariela Oestreich, Olivia Bray, and Kristin Krier.
Graduating senior Emma Troost reflected on the DBCC’s 4th place finish. “Nationals training gave me a newfound appreciation of the women on our team. There was indisputably a bigger mental aspect to Nationals this year than any other race we’ve competed in. This period, at least personally, has redefined the role that rowing, the Boat Club, and athleticism have come to play in my life.”
While training for the competition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has been anything but conventional, the DBCC girls managed to keep up their fitness while training alone--together. Athlete Isabelle Sawicki observed, “For me, training virtually really taught me a lot because it was difficult training and no one is watching you so you could easily give up, so this time taught me perseverance and a work ethic that will stay strong even when no one is watching. It was very strange to compete virtually because one of the best parts of rowing is the team aspect and relying on your teammates in the boat, but now we had to rely on each other on the erg. It was a very interesting experience but I definitely gained a lot from it and I'm very grateful that coach Mike gave us a plan to stay on track during this uncertain time.”
This dedication along with constant guidance and encouragement from coach Mike Gentile, is reflected in their impressive National Championship results. “Rowing is a team sport and training during quarantine put a big strain on us. Although we were isolated from one another, technology allowed us to continue working toward a common goal. It wasn’t easy, but I’m really proud of how this group maintained its focus and stayed motivated,” commented Gentile.
After many long months of training on the ergometer, the DBCC returned to the water in small boats for practices on Monday, June 22.