BRUNSWICK, Maine — Bowdoin Rowing is celebrating another year of fast racing and lifelong friendships. From our trip to South Carolina at the start of the Spring, to our success at the Head of the Charles toward the end of the Fall, we have a lot to relish in.
2019 started with heart-breaking news. On January 14, beloved teammate Henry Zietlow ‘22 died in a car accident. The team gathered together at the start of theSpring semester to recall memories of him and mourn his loss. On February 2, the entire team attended his memorial service in Studzinski Recital Hall. For many, the loss of Henry gave the sport more purpose—someone to pull for, think of, and give to.
During winter training, several rowers supplemented hundreds of thousands of meters on the ergs with hours of lifting in the gym. Many found inspiration in the “Star Board”— a small billboard where team members publicly tracked their training. Rowers earned stars after every workout, and competition was fierce to see who would earn the most. In the end, Walter Gadsby ’20 triumphed.
Eventually, each rower’s winter work was put to the test. In an all-out intra-team competition, Bowdoin rowers forsook their bonds of friendship to engage in Coach Doug’s cut-throat, merciless 2k erg competition: the Polar Bear Sprints. Tears were shed, vomit was spilled, and a mighty few managed to pull their way through a time trial and two 2ks to the finals. After a quick break and a little breakfast, it was a dog fight for the gold. In the end, a glorious six emerged victorious. On the women’s side, Allie Gross ’20 took 1st, Julie Scholes ’20 2nd, and Claudia Babcock 20’ 3rd. On the men’s side, Walter Gadsby ’20 finished 1st, Cameron Snow ’22 2nd, and Matt Donelly ’22 3rd.
After the climax of winter training, Bowdoin Rowing geared up and flew down to Summerton, South Carolina, home of Camp Bob Cooper. (A huge thanks to Coaches Doug and Ry for driving the trailer full of shells the full 1018 miles!) On the way down, a few teammates heckled Kenny Lamm ’20 for wearing his Camp Bob tank through security. “How did he get those guns passed the TSA?” quipped one teammate in faux astonishment. Upon arrival, rowers made themselves at home in what can only be described as one of the most down-to-Earth places there ever was. With little luxury, Camp Bob leaves room for two things and two things only: hard work and creative fun. In addition to daily double practices, workouts, and group runs, the team enjoyed myriad games of capture the flag, volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and spike ball, as well as a dance party, a trip to Charleston, a talent show, some fire-side storytelling, and a voyage to the local alligator preserve. The team also christened the latest addition to our fleet, the Free Speed, in honor of Henry Zietlow ’22.
By the time the Spring season began, Bowdoin Rowing was ready. Equipped with months of winter training, the Free Speed, and an inexhaustible competitive spirit, the team excelled. At the New England Rowing Championship, all seven of our boats medaled. The Women’s 1V, Men’s 1V, Men’s 2V, and Men’s N1 all placed first. Additionally, the Men’s 3V and Women’s N1 both placed second, and the Women’s 2V placed third. Coaches Doug and Ry were both extremely proud of how well the team performed. Several weeks later, Bowdoin Rowing competed at Dad Vail, the world’s largest collegiate regatta. Of Bowdoin’s six boats entered, 5 of them made it to the grand finals—an impressive feat given much of the competition hailed from Division 1 and Division 2 programs. The Men’s N1 and 1V boats placed 4th in their respective grand finals, while the Women’s N1, Women’s 2V and Men’s 3V each placed 5th. After Dad Vail, the team said their farewells at the Spring Banquet and parted ways for the Summer.
Just a few months later, Coaches Doug and Ry found themselves setting up the team canopy to recruit unsuspecting members of the Class of 2023. Indeed, they did better than ever before. An incredible 28 novices joined and completed the Fall season, making Bowdoin Rowing one of the largest teams on campus.
Throughout the Fall, Doug and Ry spent their mornings coaching the varsity crews and their afternoons teaching the novices. Rowers endured five water practices and two lifts per week, and many put in extra work on the ergs. By the end of the season, Bowdoin’s fleet had improved remarkably, and was ready to take on the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), one of the most competitive rowing events in the world. While the whole team rowed well, our top boats did phenomenally. The Women’s 1V placed 15th, securing an automatic bid for next year’s race, and the Men’s 1V placed 4th, medaling at the Charles by a mere five hundredths of a second!
All things considered, Bowdoin Rowing has had a remarkable year. Everyone has put in an incredible amount of work, and recently, we’ve been rewarded for it. A few weeks ago, it was confirmed that Bowdoin is sending two boats to the Henley Royal Regatta in 2020—in no small part because of the performance of the Men’s 1V at the HOCR. In excitement for what’s to come, the Polar Bears are putting in more and more work. Rowers are currently training in the gym six days a week, preparing to go faster than ever before.
Inspired by the loss of a beloved teammate and friend, encouraged by two brilliant coaches, and invigorated by each other’s passion, Bowdoin Rowing is incedibilby proud of its performance in 2019 and is looking forward to the New Year.
To all our friends, family, alumni, and supporters, Happy New Year! Let’s Go Black!