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The women's rowing crew competes at the Navy Day Regatta on Oct. 16, 2022. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

For many things in the world, there is no simple way to describe them, and a typical practice session of Penn’s rowing team is no exception. Despite the team sharing a common set of goals and time routine, there is no common definition of what rowing practice is like. 

“It’s hard to give a rundown of what a typical practice session is like, as it’s so variable. It depends on where in the season we are," freshman Bianca Granitto said.

With the exceptions of Sundays, rowing practice takes place every morning and afternoon during the September-November and February-May season blocks, with arrival at the newly renovated Burk-Bergman Boathouse expected around 6:30 a.m. A warmup consisting of stretches and mobility takes place for about 35 minutes. Boats are then launched around 7:15 a.m. and rowing takes place until practice concludes. Oftentimes, crews are on the water before the sun has even had time to fully rise.

The first part of practice generally lasts for three hours, ending at around 9:30 a.m. — just in time for 10:15 morning classes. 

In the afternoon, practices resume. This second practice consists of individual ergonomic workouts done by team members in their own time. To say that rowing student-athletes are always busy is certainly an understatement. Nevertheless, the hard work certainly pays off according to many on the team. 

“We are all a group of close-knit girls and love working hard everyday with the encouragement of each other to give it our all at every practice,” freshmen Brenna Cotter said. 

All three crews spend plenty of time at the newly renovated boathouse, with lifting sessions taking place at the Greene Strength and Conditioning Center. During the offseason, training occurs at the Hutchinson Gym where the crews make use of specialized rowing equipment.

Despite the intensity of training, positive emotions frequently run high. Even with the stress of being an athlete, many rowers still do all they can to make the best of their practice.

“The best part of the practice is having fun accomplishing something with your friends. Gaining mastery of the boat daily is like putting together a complex puzzle — although that can be challenging when academic, life, and physiological stress are combined,” women's coach Wesley Ng said. 

“It’s not easy to wake up at the crack of dawn and row at such a high intensity," freshman Anna Bellows added. "Our team is very interconnected. As a freshman, I can speak to how open and welcoming the upperclassmen are and how much effort they put in constantly to make sure that our team dynamic is good and fun. Our team has music blasting in the locker room at 6:45 a.m., that’s not really something everyone on every team gets to experience. There is high energy even when we all know that practice is going to be super tough."

With spring crew in full swing, the Quakers look forward to putting another successful rowing season in the books.