This Saturday, all three divisions of Cornell rowing — men’s lightweight, men’s heavyweight, and women’s — will be competing for the Schwartz Cup at Cayuga Lake Inlet.
Once known as the Treman Cup, it was renamed 20 years ago after Dick and Jean Schwartz became benefactors. Crews are broken down by class, specifically eight students in the same academic year in the same boat.
Men’s heavyweight commodore senior Chris Frendl describes the event as “…seniors in eight, juniors in eight, sophomores in eight, freshmen in two eight-boats.”
Designated as intra-squad, this event will include no outside competitors. It is more of a tradition as alumni head back to the lake and watch current rowers.
This year’s event will be quite special as the 1989 women’s team that won the national championship will once again grace Cayuga’s waters.
As Hilary Gehman, the Staley Head Coach of Women’s Rowing, says, “This is the only team in the history of women’s rowing at Cornell to win a national championship.”
To commemorate their return, there will be a short recognition ceremony.
Racing will begin at 7:45 a.m. and run until 9:00 a.m. Following the races will be skits put on by each class. Winners in both categories of races and skits will be awarded pewter “Schwartz Cups.”
Events include not only the usual 5000-m race, equivalent to 3.2 miles, but also an intense 500-m sprint race.
Chris Kerber, the Robert B. Tallman ’41 Head Coach of Lightweight Rowing, is particularly excited about the new event.
“The coaching staff created this ‘crowd pleaser’ 500-m event,” Kerber said. “We want each crew to push their limits over a very short distance. The race drama unfolds with boats racing two by two or ‘Henley’ style, just a few feet from parents, friends and the alumni. Look for very high rates of stroke and unsustainable efforts as crews race to get their bows ahead of one another.”
The marked difference in times of each event is apparent, lightweight crews generally finish the 5000-m race in 17:00 as compared to a 1:30 finish time for the 500-m.
“If we are to hit the big goal at the end of the year then we should be hitting all of the little goals along the way,” said senior James Brennan.
Spirit of ’57 Director of Rowing/Head Coach of Heavyweight Rowing Todd Kennett adds, “We’re a young team, having graduated a lot last year…now is the time to rise.”
“With our preparations as a team, I believe all of my athletes are ready to maximize their efforts and create some solid results…on the way to National Championships in June,” Kerber said. “We graduated some terrific athletes. The sophomores who raced as freshmen last year had the best season in decades.”
Senior lightweight captain Matt Rung agrees on the team’s outlook and is excited.
“I’d say that the team as a whole is on a very positive upswing in general, and for this race,” he said. “We have a lot of powerful and tenacious underclassmen that are already contributing to the progress of this team, and this solid foundation is what we can and will build upon all year.”
Though this race may not be viewed as formally as others, the rowers and coaches certainly think otherwise. It is the season-opener, one of five contests this fall with the last race held in Syracuse on October 31.
“We’re after power and consistency every single practice,” Rung says. “No wasted strokes. The Schwartz Cup is a good barometer for our speed at this point. If we generate it, that’s excellent. But, once racing is over, we will move forward and keep pushing for more.”