Rowing looks to build upon last season's success

The University of Alabama women’s rowing team starts its fall season on Saturday in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Head of the Chattanooga regatta. The team has been working since the end of the spring season last to prepare for the beginning of the fall season, which includes three regattas.  

Coach Larry Davis is looking to finish well in this weekend’s regatta, but also has an eye towards the end of the season.

“We’re looking for a strong first start, and what we’d like to do is build a kind of depth and speed in the first month and continue to develop that to the spring,” said Davis.

Since the beginning of September, the team has been putting in about 10 practices each week, using a combination of weight training, on the water practice and indoor running. The focus this season is building upon the team’s fifth place finish in last spring’s Big 12 Championship, the highest in program history.

“Our goal is to be able to shoot for the top three, which will not be easy, but I believe if we really nail this down we have the capability to get to one of those top three slots,” said Davis.

While the Big 12 Championship took place in May, that doesn’t mean the team took a lot of time off. Rowers have been hard at work keeping up their fitness and working towards this season.

“It is so tempting to take off the entire summer, but you really have to mentally prepare yourself to come back and hit the ground running, and make sure you’re in the right mindset when you come in” said senior Jacklin Byers.

Despite the Crimson Tide’s strong finish last season, the team feels optimistic that they can do even better this year.

“We’ve been working really hard and I feel like we’ve made better progress than last year. We’ve been developing better and everyone’s been working hard to get better,” said senior rower Olivia Dennis. “We don’t stop, we’re 24/7, we do everything we can 24/7 to get better.”

The start of the new season brings new rowers to the team, including some who have never rowed before. The team works to integrate new members while also teaching those new to rowing. Those who have never rowed before don’t often compete early on, but they practice and build up their skills to be able to race in the late fall and spring.

“They’re in the process of getting their sea legs, we’re developing them and teaching them the skills they need to go out and be competitive,” Davis said.

Byers and Dennis both stress the importance of teamwork, not only in a crew but throughout the team in general. Performing the best they can is important, but the rowers also want to have the best team atmosphere that they can.

“Our goals are of course to keep getting faster, but also to maintain a good team culture and attitude,” Byers said.

The regatta will see the Tide face off against teams like Georgia, Vanderbilt, and even fellow Big 12 rival Tennessee. The team has been preparing for the Head of the Chattanooga, but as always, the focus is also on the big picture

“We’re looking for a strong first start, and hopefully we will have the speed to have even a greater success rate than we did last year,” Davis said.

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