After a somewhat disappointing season last year, the women’s rowing team has used this year to restructure its program, resulting in dramatic growth from every individual and high hopes for improved results.
“In a few short weeks of racing and being on the water we’ve already seen tremendous improvements in our strength and skill,” said junior rower Rachel Padula.
While they placed seventh out of the eight competing teams in the Ivy League Women’s Rowing Championships in 2017, the team is looking forward to the 2018 Ivy League Championships, set for May 13.
“Our coach, Barney Williams, believes that every race is a step on the journey, so we can really only tell if we’ve met or failed our goals at the Ivy League Championship, which is the pinnacle of our regular racing season,” said junior Georgia Seehaus.
Last year, the only team the Red surpassed was Dartmouth, who placed last in the Championships. This season, however, the team has taken several strides and has beaten other Ivy League squads on multiple occasions.
At the Doc Hosea Invitational Regatta in Camden, New Jersey, on March 31, the Red’s Second Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Four beat Penn, with times of 6:51.7 and 7:49.4, respectively.
On April 7, at the Class of ’75 Cup in Princeton, New Jersey, the team toppled some of its significant Ivy rivals. The Second Varsity Four surpassed Harvard, and the Second Varsity Eight and the Varsity Four beat Columbia.
These impressive improvements are due in part to the team’s altered mindset and determination after last season.
“[They have] taken dramatic strides forward,” Williams said. “For them to achieve as much growth as they’ve achieved in seven months is a true testament to them in terms of their mindset.”
The determined mindset of the athletes has strengthened relationship between athletes and coaches, according to Williams. He said his athletes are simply looking to improve and move forward every day in practice.
“This [mindset] has put coaches and athletes on the same page in an amazingly powerful way,” Williams said. “This is the most collaborative and cohesive environment I’ve ever been a part of.”
In addition to mental improvements, the team has altered its physical approach. Both the team and Williams realize sheer strength alone won’t be enough to take down opponents, which has forced the Red to become more creative in its training, thinking of ways to outsmart competition. The team is even aiming to create a unique “Cornell stroke.”
“We’ve been looking at different strategies and tactics for getting ahead,” Padula said. “This includes things like anticipating when they will get tired and capitalizing on those opportunities.”
Anticipating the Ivy League Women’s Rowing Championships, the Red hopes to be at its peak on May 13.
“We are planning to have the best race of the season in Ivy Championships on May 13,” Williams said. “[There is a] strategic design behind training [and] racing. [We have] the opportunity to build and use each race to find more speed.”
The Red has one more race before the Championships — the Parents Cup at Dartmouth on April 28 in Hanover, New Hampshire.