D.C. is quiet before the sun breaks over the Anacostia River. Senators, lobbyists, honking cars, and whistling sirens are all silent. The constant percussion of city life has come to a halt, save for the gentle lapping of waves against the oars of AU’s club crew team.
The gentle lapping is soon to cease for the winter, as cold winds begin to blow across the Anacostia River’s murky, gray waters. With their head races complete, the AU men’s and women’s varsity squads will use this time to reflect on their fall season and to prepare for the distant, but fast approaching spring sprint season.
Both teams competed in four head races this fall. Head races are typically longer, endurance-fueled races that cover distances that range from 3 to 8 km.
The Eagles’ races included the Head of the Potomac in D.C., the Head of the Occoquan and the Occoquan Challenge in Fairfax Station, Va. and the Head of the Charles in Boston.
In the Head of the Charles, considered the top head race in the country, both the men’s and women’s teams were competitive in their respective heats despite a 26th place finish for the men’s four and 29th and 31st place finishes for the two women’s fours that competed in the race.
Although the teams weren’t racing against Harvard, Princeton or other rowing powers, they were racing against many top tier collegiate teams.
“You’re sitting at the start with all of these [top tier teams] and you’re looking battle in the face,” said Austin Ditz, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business.
The men’s team would have finished eight places higher, with a time of 17:58 had it not been for a 40-second penalty accrued after an opponent forced them out of bounds.
Although the crew team won’t be up at 4:30 a.m. again until the spring, practice still does not stop.
“It can be very grueling,” said sophomore rower Phil Piatt. “But it can be satisfying in a certain way. For some, crew is almost therapeutic.”
Both teams’ winter “therapy” will consist of erging and strength-training four to five days a week in the Letts fitness center until Christmas break and continuing through the two months before spring break.
By the time of the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, the most prestigious sprint race in the country, AU’s crew will be ready to face its competition.
“We are hitting the ground running,” Ditz said. “We are looking to perform in Dad Vails. We have the potential. It’s just a matter of getting all that power and blowing everyone out of the water.”