Courtesy of Cornell Athletics

The Cornell rowing teams celebrate the Schwartz Cup races on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at the Cornell Rowing Center in Ithaca, NY.

October 6, 2023

Cornell Rowing Programs Host Annual Schwartz Cup

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Men’s heavyweight, lightweight and women’s crew teams took on the annual Schwartz Cup on Saturday, Sept. 30, rowing down Cayuga Lake in festive costumes in hopes of winning the race and the costume competition. 

Within the programs, each class broke down into boats to race one another. The freshman, sophomore, junior and senior boats rowed in matching costumes for their first regatta of the Fall season. 

“Originally [the costumes] were a joke in the first couple of years that Dick Schwartz ’60 started, as one day it was snowing,” said men’s heavyweight head coach Todd Kennet ’91 of Schwartz, who endowed the race in 2018. “Everybody thought it’d be funny to do a little costume, and a boat came down with reindeer antlers and a Santa Claus hat. That was the start of the whole thing. After a while, it took off, and everybody started putting more effort into the costumes. One year, Jean Schwartz [Schwartz’ wife] decided there was so much spirit in it, so she offered a cup for the best costume.”

Senior captain Charles Bierden said he enjoyed the Schwartz Cup after the senior boat won the race within the men’s heavyweight program in their senior citizen costumes, complete with walkers and curly haired wigs. 

“It was a good race. I think since we all are seniors and we’ve been rowing for a while together, everything kind of just clicked,” Bierden said. “It was a pretty awesome race. The juniors were pushing hard, but I think [the seniors] were just cleaner with it, technique-wise.”

The senior class came out victorious for the heavyweight team, while it was the juniors for the lightweight team. For the women’s race, it was the freshmen who originally won, dressed up as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, however, the junior class ended up stealing the win after their times in the 500-meter sprint. 

The friendly race excited the coaches and athletes for the upcoming regattas and season. 

“I think the team’s looking pretty good right now,” Bierden said. “We are preparing for the Head of the Charles Race in Boston in over two weeks. We’re looking to win that, like we did last year. Then, going to the spring [season], we do dual racing. So, our first race against Harvard, we’re excited.”

Similarly, Kennet is looking forward to building the foundations in their non-traditional season in preparation for the spring. The men’s heavyweight program has been working on strength training and technique. 

“We haven’t done much race preparation,” Kennet said. “We’ve been playing around with some technique stuff. As we get back from fall break, we’ll be in a month of racing and that’s when we will go into far more boat lineups with far more tests of going up in rate and the longevity of the pieces, to test ourselves and see how long we can stay in rhythm and how long we can uphold our technique.”

The Schwartz Cup mentally and physically prepared the teams for the spring season. Bringing together the three rowing programs, the regatta was also strongly attended by alumni. 

“All the alumni came back,” Bierden said. “It was a really big, awesome celebration of Cornell rowing.”

Rachel Baez  is a Sun contributing writer and can be reached at [email protected].