Every day at 6:00 a.m. the Colorado rowing team is on the water at the Boulder Reservoir.
This club team, made up of about 65 members in the fall and 40 in the spring, boasts some of the most driven and athletic students at CU.
“Athletes on our team represent the best of what CU has to offer… [they are] extremely dedicated athletes taking care of business, [who] show up at 6:00 a.m. and get work done,” said men’s head coach Alex Berlin.
Last weekend, the men’s and women’s teams competed at the Head of the Iowa Regatta in Iowa City.
The men’s varsity boats finished sixth in the Varsity 8+ division and seventh in the Varsity 4+ division. The freshman 1 boat’s impressive second-place finish in the Novice 8+ division demonstrates the depth of the team’s talent.
The women’s varsity boats finished 12th in the Varsity 8+ division and 14th and 21st in the Varsity 4+ division.
The Buffs were pleased with their results, in light of competing against several Division I varsity-level teams such as the University of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, whose men’s team was fifth in the nation last year.
According to the women’s captain, All-American four-year rower and senior integrated physiology major Victoria Filbrandt, the women’s team is already many strides ahead of where it was last year.
“Last year we didn’t have a big returning varsity team… it’s been a few years since we’ve had a varsity eight coming into the fall, [so] I’m excited to see what we can do in the spring,” Filbrandt said.
Several standouts on the women’s side look to lead the team this year.
Filbrandt, who said she hopes to try out for the U23 National Team after college, and Kate Horton are the only four-year rowers, and will act as role models for their less-experienced teammates.
Sophomore Emily Dohm, who was a novice beginner last year but was rowing on the Varsity 8 by the spring, said she also looks to be a strong force. Freshman Kayla Dreisinger, who is trying out for the Canadian junior national team this year, should be a presence as well.
According to the men’s team captain, junior Stefan Pieterse, the men’s team performed well at the Head of the Iowa but still has plenty of work ahead before the spring.
“The varsity squad is young for the most part and has done a lot of learning this fall,” Pieterse said. “In order to succeed this spring this learning curve must continue throughout the winter.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel to Wichita, Kansas this weekend to compete at the Frostbite Regatta, and Coach Berlin expects strong results.
“Historically we have done really well [at this race]… there [will be] a lot of other club teams, and we are one of the best club teams in the nation,” Berlin said.
At the club level, the men compete against schools like Bucknell, UC Davis, Purdue and the University of Virginia, while the women’s biggest club competitors this year look to be Purdue, New Hampshire and UCSB.
The Buffs will continue to practice on the water for as long as the warmer weather remains, but will soon move their workouts to the indoor erg rooms at the Student Recreation Center, where they will build their strength and speed.
“A lot of really hard work gets done [in the indoor season] and speed gets put on,” Berlin said.
Come spring, though, they will look forward to getting back out on the water as they prepare for the Southern and Western Collegiate Rowing Association Regattas in April and the American Collegiate Rowing Association Regatta in late May.
“Rowing is a sport that happens outside on the water for a reason,” Berlin said. “There’s something about being in a boat with eight others and moving in the water that’s unique.”
Last year at the American Rowing Association Regatta, both the men’s and women’s Varsity 8 earned third in their heats.
Because both teams are so successful, it’s hard to believe that most of the athletes have little to no experience rowing prior to joining the CU team. In fact, only four out of 32 rowers on the men’s team had any previous experience before donning the black and gold.
“If people are interested in rowing it’s something they should pursue… it takes a lot of work, but if you’re competitive and want to work hard you’ll succeed,” Berlin said.
What keeps these students motivated to show up and work hard every morning?
“It’s hard on cold mornings, doing it week after week, but once you get up all your teammates are there, your best friends on the team… and you get to see the sunrise,” Filbrandt said.
Pieterse offered his own reason as well.
“I row because… the amount of time that gets put into it directly correlates to how well an individual or team does at the sport,” Pieterse said. “There are not star rowers, it is eight men working together towards one goal, which is winning.”
Contact CU Independent staff writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.Maconi@colorado.edu.