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Senior Jack Carlson

Name: Jack CarlsonSport: Crew

Position: Varsity Heavyweight Coxswain and Captain

Hometown: Weston, Mass.

School/Class: SFS ’09

ajor: Regional and Comparative Studies

How did you first get involved with crew?

I got involved in middle school, actually. . Our boathouse was right across the street from our school [on the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. which] is one of the most famous rowing venues in the U.S. . The way I kind of first got involved was my math teacher in middle school was the middle school crew coach. He came up to me one day and said, “You’re little, do you want to be our coxswain?” and I said “Sure!”

Was it hard adjusting to Georgetown as a freshman?

Georgetown was my first choice, and I kind of came ready to dive right in. It’s definitely been a lot more academically challenging than I thought it would be. All these kids in high school who go off to Yale or Brown or whatever are like “Oh, college is so easy after high school.” When I came to Georgetown, I was like “Oh my God, what are these people talking about?” It’s been very challenging academically, which is a good thing, I think. I don’t think the adjustment was too tough. I just – to this day – don’t get much sleep.

I’ve heard horror stories about crew practices at ridiculous hours of the morning. Are those stories true or are they just rumors?

That’s an assumption a lot of people have and it’s a rumor that we try to dispel when we’re recruiting walk-ons during freshman orientation on the lawn. No, it’s not that bad, most of our practices are at 7 [a.m.] – which by college student standards, I guess, is still pretty bad, but it’s nowhere near [as bad as the rumors say].

For those of us who haven’t experienced being on crew, what is the experience like?

People might get this idea that it’s all kind of gentle and relaxing. You’re out there on the water; it must be peaceful and calm. But it’s a pretty tough sport. Our fall season has very long races, so it’s a real test of endurance. Then our main racing season, which is the spring season, [has] short sprint pieces and they’re real tests of power. There’s definitely a huge, huge technical side of it, but at the same time, every race is a real physical test. . Although I don’t really get tested on any of that because I’m the coxswain, steering the boat at the stern.

So you got the easy way out?

I don’t know if I got the easy way out – most coxswains will tell you it’s the hardest job in the boat. Actually this past weekend at the Jesuit [Regatta], I got to do something cool – I actually got to row in the second freshman boat. I was just in bow seat where you throw the lightest guy. That was a really awesome experience. I never really rowed sweep before, I have all the kind of theoretical side of things in my head because you’ve got to know that as a coxswain. But to go out there and try to execute it – I can tell you, being the coxswain is not the hardest job in the book, and I have real evidence for that after this weekend. But it’s tougher than people think: you’ve got to be the in-the-boat coach, you’ve got to be the motivator, you’ve got to be aware of your surroundings – where you’re steering, what the other crews are doing. . It’s a big job.

What is the camaraderie like within your squad?

It’s a pretty close-knit group. Definitely, some of my best friends are guys from the team. . People are involved in other things and have other friends, but for most of the guys, their best friends are on the team.

Does your squad have a clown?

I wouldn’t describe him as a clown exactly, but Andrew Federer, who’s a junior on our team, is good at parodying songs with lyrics that are especially relevant to our team. I won’t go into any details though.

Does that by any chance involve T-Pain’s “I’m on a Boat?”

That song’s very popular in our team, although I don’t think he’s gotten to that yet.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of class and practice?

Going to The Tombs. . We actually do team dinners there before races; it’s definitely got the rowing atmosphere with the oars on the wall. It has a good ambiance to set the tone the night before the race.

Booey’s or Wisey’s?

Definitely Booey’s. . It’s a big crew hangout. Sometimes after a race you’ll see all the GW rowers in there, or you see the women’s national team who train at the Potomac Boat Club in there, or the team we just raced will also be in there.

– Photo and interview by Hijab Shah

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