Two weekends ago, the Georgetown rowing team closed out its fall schedule with a pair of regattas ¬— the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia, Pa., on Oct. 29 and the Princeton Chase in Princeton, N.J., on the following day. After a disappointing start in Philadelphia, the team improved its results by the end of the weekend.
The squad’s performance gives it positive momentum and some much-needed rest as it begins winter training for its spring season, set to begin in mid-March.
Head Coach Luke Agnini admitted that the team’s results at Schuylkill did not meet his expectations. However, he was encouraged by the tight internal competition between the lightweight A and B boats, both of which finished within seconds of each other.
“We ended up making two boats out of our top 16 rather than just sending our top eight and have them battle it out,” Agnini said. “Our two even boats went about as fast as our one boat did last year, which is great.”
At Princeton, the team was faced with strong headwinds, and even stronger competition. Yet, despite racing the day before, Georgetown’s two lead boats each improved their times by over 10 seconds.
“Surprisingly, the faster boat was the one with all the younger guys, which is good,” Agnini said. “Depth was something we didn’t have last year, and it’s good for the upperclassmen to feel some internal pressure.”
Overall, Agnini praised the entire team’s effort in the final race of the fall campaign. He specifically singled out the influence of older rowers and the team’s ability to overcome injuries.
“A lot of young guys stepped up, and a lot of the older guys who were forced into leadership positions because of injuries did a great job too,” Agnini said.
When asked about his primary goal for the spring, Agnini prioritized the health of his rowers. To him, it has been their biggest deterrent so far this year, as illnesses have hampered his inability to field the entire team at races.
“Ever since the first week of October, we haven’t had a full squad, and when the squad was at full strength in September, I thought things were going really well,” Agnini said.
In preparation for spring races, Agnini plans on emphasizing rhythm and unity in practice.
“I want the guys to become more in tune with the rhythm and style of rowing so that they’re not only more interchangeable, but all on the same page when we hop back on the water in March,” Agnini said. “That takes time when you’re trying to manufacture that with a bunch of guys who all row a bit differently, but there’s a great work ethic here. Guys bust their butts every day.”
The team has roughly four months before its next race, but that doesn’t mean they can take time off. Agnini already has plans to get his team back out on the water this week to build more consistency as his full roster rounds into form.
“Instead of getting indoors … we’re actually going to hit the water harder and do way more time on the water, so when we get through the winter I have a better idea of where to start in March,” Agnini said. “I want to make more time for film and video analysis. In rowing, you have to get so much volume training in to be fit enough to compete that you don’t have as much time for the X’s and O’s as you want. We’re trying to create time for that.”
Despite the adversity it has faced so far this year, the team remains optimistic. Agnini has high expectations for his squad. He believes that the rowers have the ability to improve, given enough practice and instruction.
“We want to develop these guys, educate them and eventually empower them so that on race day, they’re completely aware of what they have to do,” Agnini said. “At the end of the day, these guys have to get really good at competing. You’re not going to improve every day, but you have to try.”
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