August 24, 2009

Coxswain Quinn Competes Abroad

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The US lightweight-8 boat established an[img_assist|nid=37678|title=All together now|desc=Senior coxswain Kerry Quinn was selected to the USA National rowing team for the World Championships in Ponzan, Poland.|link=node|align=left|width=336|height=224] early lead Sunday morning before crossing the finish line for its first win at the World Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland. Overpowering the Netherlands, Japan and Turkey in the qualifying heat for the championship regatta, the win grants a direct spot in the grand final on Sunday, Aug. 30.
The championship regatta represents the best in rowing, so it was only fitting senior Cornellian Kerry Quinn sat at the back of the boat as coxswain.
“This is a huge honor for me,” Quinn wrote in an e-mail. While fellow Cornellians and recent graduates Andrew Diebold ’06 and Matt Kochem ’08 join Quinn in the lightweight-8 boat, it is rare for current undergraduates to be selected for the national team.
Although joined by familiar teammates, Quinn noted that the dynamic of the national team differs from the Cornell team, where the training and racing schedule follows the school year. In contrast, the individual athletes on the national team spend the year training on their own before meeting up in Princeton to compete for a spot on the team. Each year in late June or early July, the national coaches invite top American rowers to compete for spots in the national team boats during a selection process. Since the final selections were made in late July, the team has been training to peak at the championship, rowing twice a day and completing a combination of longer and shorter practices.
Boat placements and results in collegiate competitions can mostly be predicted by the time the championships roll around by looking at the past performances of other teams’ boats, and most boats have already raced each other by the time the regatta rolls around. This is not the case at the championship regatta, where not much is known about the other crews. While the national lighweight-8 boat won its qualifying heat and clocked in a second faster than Italy, the winner of the other qualifying heat, and the opponent in next Sunday’s championship race, is still very much up in the air.
“I think this helps us, it forces us to optimize our own boat speed. That’s all we can do in this sport, there is no defense in rowing, it’s all an offensive push for the 2,000 meters down the race course,” Quinn wrote.
Besides two team members being delayed on arrival in Poland, it’s been smooth sailing for the team so far. The team will spend the rest of the week practicing and preparing for the grand final on August 30.