Alabama Crew Club hosts Row Tide Regatta

In its first race of the spring, the Alabama Crew Club team will host its signature Row Tide Regatta Saturday on the Black Warrior River.

Races are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and will run through 2 p.m. The 2,000-meter sprints will begin at Manderson Landing and finish at the steel pier near the Tuscaloosa River Market.

The event returns after several years on hiatus and will feature the Alabama Crew Club alongside club crew teams from LSU, Northwestern State, Samford and University of Alabama at Huntsville. The adapted rowing team will also compete in 1,000-meter sprints.

“This race is more to see where teams are at because it’s still early in the season,” Alabama Crew Club coach Daniela Susnara said. “I don’t think the boys know how much potential they have yet, and I think it’s going to be a pleasant surprise.”

The race will be the first event on the water this season, following a long winter of indoor training and practice on ergs, or indoor rowing machines. The team began practicing in January but was not able to practice on the river until recently because of the cold weather.

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Susnara said the race has the potential to refresh the team after the grueling off-season workouts.

“Winter training is really difficult mentally because you’re indoors, you’re on an erg every morning and it’s very tedious and emotionally draining because when you have a bad day, it hurts your ego,” Susnara said. “I think a good showing at this race would give them confirmation that all the work they’ve put into these past two months have been worth it.”

Having a race in Tuscaloosa will be a different environment for the team. Club president Connor Buckley said racing on the Black Warrior will be a welcomed change because it will be easier not only on the team, but also on family members and friends.

“It’s very different,” Buckley said. “Travel is one of our biggest concerns, and the guys are happy we’ll be staying here. It’s also good to be able to have family and friends who normally can’t travel with us come watch. It’s good to get to include them.”

Currently the varsity team has only six members, which has somewhat changed expectations for the season. Competitions will include the John Hunter Regatta on March 29, Clemson Sprints on April 5 and the SIRA Championships on April 18-19.

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Buckley said the team, especially the varsity group, is focusing on improving while battling the challenges that come with small numbers this season.

“It’s hard with less members,” Buckley said. “There is less inter-team competition. We’ve had to work not to become complacent with how we are as rowers and just accepting the boat you’re in.”

Despite early morning practices that begin at 5:15 a.m., exhausting workouts and the challenges of a club team, Buckley said the experience of rowing is one he would not trade, and the work is worth the payoff.

“It’s worth it because we love being on the water,” Buckley said. “The feeling when everything is going perfectly in a boat is hard to describe, and the feeling of winning a race – it’s little things that make all the hard work worth it.”

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