Preseason for the 2011 fall session has begun for the eager rowers of Drexel women’s crew. All of the women’s boats finished with impressive results over the past spring season, ending on the Schuylkill River for the annual Dad Vail Regatta. Paul Savell, head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams, is getting the rowers physically and mentally prepared for the Rumson Boat Race this weekend in Rumson, N.J.
The Dragons have already been vigorously training on the river for the past few weeks. Savell said that during the fall, both teams focus a lot on fitness and getting into rowing shape after the two months off. Fortunately some of the athletes cross-train over the summer, which is great for variety and injury prevention. However, this does not help them get back into specific rowing endurance.
“Early in the fall season, we try to get in as many miles as we can to get everyone into rowing shape and capable of serious training for a two-hour period,” he said.
Last fall, the women sealed their successful season here in Philadelphia with the Bill Braxton Regatta. According to drexeldragons.com, the Women’s Varsity Eight A earned Drexel their first first-place finish. The boat recorded a time of 5:15.23, which prevailed over Rochester, Lehigh and Haverford. The Varsity Eight B earned a third first-place finish, clocking in at 5:20.25.
Savell mentioned that the team’s main focus during fall training is long, steady state workouts for the body of their races.
“We move a lot of different combinations around from boat to boat to see who matches up well with each other,” he said. “As the season progresses, we work on finessing the first and last sections of our race.”
With practices continuing smoothly, he continued to say that the lineups have become more concrete as they try to maximize their boat speed. When everyone moves together at the same steady boat speed, team chemistry is successfully achieved.
After the fall season wrapped up last year, the Dragons were ready to get back on the water and compete for their primary spring session. The women fell short of winning any first-place finishes in their first weekend on the water against St. Joseph’s and Delaware. However, they came back strong against Villanova and La Salle when welcoming them to the Schuylkill the following weekend.
The Women’s Varsity Eight boat dominated La Salle and Villanova, clocking in with a time of 6:36.99. The second and third Varsity Eight boats also overpowered their competitors by coming out on top. The Freshman Eight boat finished second, shortly behind Villanova at 6:46.90.
Savell mentioned some of the evident improvements the ladies displayed during last year’s spring season. The younger members on each of the boats really picked up the intensity to help clinch record times.
“Our underclassmen really came on strong at the end of last year and really increased the level of competition within the team,” Savell said.
In addition, one of the team’s biggest achievements during the spring season was their Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Chairman’s Trophy, awarded in May. Drexeldragons.com stated that the trophy was given to these talented athletes due to their recognizable victory in the Elite Eight Championship. The women clinched the Sports Council Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in June 2010 in Henley-on-Thames, England.
Drexeldragons.com took note of the immense pride in what Gary Marshall, Aberdeen’s chief executive, had to say.
“To be the best in the world, like the Drexel women’s crew, it takes hard work and determination, and we are proud to recognize such success,” he said. “We hope that this award today will inspire Drexel and others to similar success this year.”
He continued with saying how this award emphasized the high-pressure status of a race like the Dad Vail Regatta, comparing it to a world-class sporting event.
“At the Henley Women’s Regatta there is no second, no bronze medal, just knockout competition to find out the simple truth — who is the fastest? In 2010 it was Drexel,” Marshall said.
A different type of honor was awarded to junior Elizabeth Bratton, who was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Women’s Rowing Scholar Athlete of the Year. The health-sciences major maintained a cumulative grade point average higher than 3.25 and also earned All-CAA honors in the stroke seat of the Varsity Eight boat.
Bratton and the rest of the team are welcoming new Dragons to the water this fall. Savell said that the freshman squad looks great on paper, and really has to work hard to live up to the past freshman classes who came in with great intensity.
“We have a great mix of experienced recruits with some real athletic walk-ons that should see some success,” Savell said.
This weekend the ladies will get back into their routine of dominating on the water. The Dragons are ready for some high-pressure races to get the season started off at a high level.
“This team is aware of what they are capable of this year and that has brought a sense of excitement and anticipation to the start of training,” Savell said in closing.