Blackington sees improvement for Alabama rowing team


RowingCaroline Blackington watched Alabama’s rowing team make strides last season, but she knows the team must improve on one thing: speed.

The Crimson Tide will participate in three regattas this fall, one of them being the Head of the Charles in Cambridge, Mass. It will race against some of the best boats in the world, and Blackington knows any additional speed will be beneficial to the team’s success.

“We’ve been progressing in speed as a team over the past few years since our program started back in 2006,” Blackington said. “What we want to accomplish is to get a little faster, have more of an edge than we did last year, which is going to be very easy to do because we have a good incoming class. Last year, the majority of our athletes were all underclassmen – freshmen and sophomores. Now we have a little bit more experience, and we’re starting to take that with us.”

Blackington, a junior majoring in health studies, has emerged as one of the leaders on the team, and head coach Larry Davis has taken notice.

Davis, who is entering his eighth year as head coach at The University of Alabama, said he’s been pleased with his rowers’ mentality during the offseason and toward the upcoming year.

“I get the impression from what I’ve seen so far and based on what the girls told me they did this summer – we had a number of them rowing for boat clubs over the summer – that we had the right attitude over the summer, and that’s a good starting point for what we want to do this year,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to it, and I think the girls are too. I think the juniors are ready to step up and be really good leaders.”

Blackington said having a year of experience is beneficial toward the team taking that next step, and with the same schedule for 2013, that step should be even easier to accomplish.

“I’m very excited to race some of the same races that we did last year and see how we stack up,” Blackington said. “I’m very excited to go out and race against Tennessee again because last fall was the first we had ever beat them [in team history] at the Chattanooga Head Race. We got third at the Head of the Charles, which is the biggest regatta in the world. I’m excited to go out and try to beat our times from last year.”

The rowing team will begin the season at the Chattanooga Head Race in October, and the student athletes are excited to get the boat back into the water.

But Blackington said one of the best things about rowing is the camaraderie and trust that is established within the boat. She said so much can go wrong in an instant that it is important for her crew to trust one another at all times.

The rowers come from all over the United States, so building a relationship can take some time. But Blackington said just being in the boat with them forces you to learn quickly.

“It makes it easier to create a bond,” Blackington said. “You can be from completely different corners of the country, but we can bond so much easier by learning more from them, learning from them inside the sport, learning from them outside the sport as people and values and everything. It helps with the bonding process.”


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