Each day of practice, the men of the lightweight crew team sweat and burn for hours at a time on the waters of the Cayuga inlet or on the ergometers located in Teagle Hall. During their training hours, these men not only work to improve their strength, form, and speed, but also must remain below a certain weight in order to be permitted to compete.
Members of lightweight crew teams around the country must weigh in at no more than 160 pounds each, according to stipulations made by the NCAA. The average weight for the entire boat cannot exceed 155 pounds. Freshman have even stricter criteria — individual rowers cannot weigh-in at more than 155 and the maximum average for the boat is 150.
Having a weight requirement adds pressure to the athletes, as they not only have to perform well, but they must also be able to perform well when the scale reads at a number below 160.
“Everyone needs to learn how to perform at their optimum weight,” said senior Charles Shuey, who has been rowing for the Red since his freshman year. “Each of us has to be at a place where we still have as much muscle as possible.”
Maintaining this weight is no simple task, and it takes great dedication on the part of the athletes to do so. Coming into the spring season each year, members of the Red may exceed the weight limit. Luckily, they are able to begin losing the necessary pounds during training in January.
“Losing weight in order to weigh-in is not a problem in general. We realize at the beginning of the season where we need to be and get a start right away,” said Shuey.
Shuey, along with other members of the Cornell squad, worked hard over the past few months in order to drop to the weight necessary to compete. Due to the extensive pre-season, they are able to shed pounds at a reasonable rate — normally at about a pound a week. Burning thousands of calories during practice certainly helps this and keeps athletes from having to resort to drastic measures such as crash dieting and sweat runs.
Many people may think such rigid restrictions would make rowing difficult, or perhaps even undesirable, when in fact, it is the complete opposite. Being forced to maintain this weight creates an extra discipline and dedication to the sport of rowing for those who participate.
“Sometimes I will take time to erg extra, or play a game of basketball just to burn calories. You need to be dedicated to meet the requirement,” Shuey said.
The entire crew is affected by any individual team member’s weight losses and gains throughout the season, so this process certainly builds a mutual respect between teammates. Everyone goes through the same process, side by side. Nobody stands by to watch. If one person in the entire boat fails to make weight, the rest of the boat cannot race. Teammates watch out for one another to make sure this does not occur.
“Having to maintain a certain weight bonds together the team. When we sat at dinner tonight, we all knew we had to be at our weight by Friday afternoon [the first weigh-in]. If I’m not below 160, no one gets to race. Same for them. It’s a full-time sport — whether it’s rowing or eating or something else — we work together,” Shuey said.
The Red has its first weigh-in of the season this tomorrow evening before its competition with Harvard and Penn this Saturday. Because they have been working since January, tomorrow is certainly an important day, but not one they were unable to foresee.
Archived article by Erin Garry
Sun Staff Writer