And on day three, there were medals. Thirty-six national championships were won in morning racing at the 2017 USRowing Club National Championships on Harsha Lake in Bethel, Ohio, Friday.
In crews ranging from under 17 to elite, the five-day national summer championship wound through to the halfway point of the schedule before turning to time trials for an entirely new set of events in the afternoon to begin seeding for the heats that will follow Saturday morning and the Sunday finals.
In the newest and most highly anticipated event of the day - the elite men's single race of the Lotman Challenge - California Rowing Club's Michael Clougher moved through Craftsbury sculling Center's John Graves in the last five-hundred meters to claim first prize and the top ranking of the three race series.
Michael Clougher wins first Lotman Challenge men's single event
Graves, just back from rowing the Diamond Sculls final at the Henley Royal Regatta, could probably have used some time off, but with up to $9,000 in possible prize money on the line, he came back to his home town to race.
"With the amount of training and travel expenses every year, it would be irresponsible not to come," Graves said.
After cruising through the time trial and semi-final, Graves was out in front and winning by open water and pushing into the last quarter when his arms froze. Graves is planning on rowing a double at world championship trials in August with Ben Davison, who is rowing in the coxed four in Bulgaria next week at the Under 23 World Championships.
Graves said he was rowing with "a different rig," and using the oars he will be using in the double. The adjustment was not easy.
"I was leading by a lot, but I was kind of experimenting with some things. I changed my rig quite a bit. I knew there would be risk. The race was going very well until my wrists and forearms froze up quite a bit. It was like a fire paw kind of thing."
"The change (to the rigging) has been going really well. I've been trying to rate higher at the body of the race. But I used too much energy and started tensing," he said. "Hats off to Mike. He rowed a great race.
"But it kind of stinks. I was four lengths up going into the last five hundred. Every other part of my body was fine, but I felt like I couldn’t square the blades."
Without skipping a beat, the regatta switched from a finals day to basically a day one scenario, with time trials running non-stop from after the lunch break until 7 PM.
With the week's time trials dispatched, Saturday morning will feature the heats for the women's Lotman singles event. Three Rio Olympians including Felice Mueller, Ellen Tomek, Megan O'Leary and former national team sculler, Olivia Coffey, are among those scheduled to race.
Mueller was on the beach this morning cheering on Graves.
Felice Mueller, who was on the beach this morning cheering on Graves, races in the women's Lotman single Saturday