This week's row2k Interview is with Will Daly of the USA LM4- following the crew's first World Championship A Final appearance in 13 years.
row2k - What has been your experience racing the lightweight four at the elite level prior to 2013?
Will Daly - I first made the four in 2008 that competed in the Beijing Olympics. I was able to continue earning a position in the four in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Besides the changeover in personnel the biggest difference for me was that I started in 3 seat on port, then went to stroke on port, then went to stroke on starboard, and then back to 3 seat on starboard.
row2k - What were your crew's expectations heading into Chungju?
Will Daly - Coming off Lucerne and having missed the A Final by 0.12 seconds (to the British), we were all pretty determined to make it to the A final and have a shot at the medals. I think it was also the first time I had been part of a crew that realized we really were that good and had realistic expectations of what we could accomplish.
Our training situation was pretty unique in that we were totally isolated with just the four of us alongside Cam, our coach. This could have been to our detriment, however we used this isolation to really experiment with our rowing and take some risks in figuring out what we could do better. Cam did a great job of keeping us focused but also kept us level-headed during those times when we became overly critical. With all this in mind, our expectations were that we could hang with the best of our competition and were able to move up to that next level on the world stage.
row2k - The semifinal was quite the race, tell us about that race and how you felt after qualifying for the A Final?
Will Daly - People always ask how your draw is or how your semi is: did you get the easy one or the hard one? However, in the lightweight four, I have yet to see a semifinal that seems envious. There are too many good crews who can make the A final. When you line up against the Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Italy, and Poland you know they are all capable of making the A final and we knew we had nothing to lose.
We had been having a little trouble with our starts early in the regatta and the semifinal was not much different. We were a couple seats down through 250 meters and by the 500 meter mark we were about a length down on Denmark and Italy. I think Poland and France were up on us a bit at this point and we were sitting even with Czech Republic. Then, we just started grinding away. I think at first we saw the Czechs start to falter and then Poland. Once we passed the 1000 meter mark it really felt like we started rolling downhill and picking up speed. I remember calling ‘even with France’ and about 1250 meters in I started saying we were moving on Italy. By the time we hit the 500 meter to go mark, I think we were even with Italy and France; I called it up and we just started pushing for the line.
Crossing the line and knowing we were going to the A final was incredible. I had never been to an A final in the four and finally making it really validated my decision that rowing another four years was the right one.
row2k - What did you learn during the A Final you can use for upcoming seasons?
Will Daly - First thing we learned was we need to stop going to the repechage. Even with racing every other day and what seems like plenty of time to recover, you can tell it hurts by the end of the regatta. Secondly, we really need to work on our start. We had known this and been working on it, but we just never seemed to be able to get it to work for the first full 500 meters.
row2k - What were the strengths of this year's crew?
Will Daly - First off we had a lot of experience, three of us have been to the Olympics and Bob has been around and is a real mature guy. We were also incredibly professional in our approach to training. This included great weight and recovery management, and while we had the maturity and experience, I think Cam played a big role too. We also had a great boat dynamic -- we all got along very well and could give constructive criticism without it blowing up into something big.
row2k - How has fall training gone so far and what are you looking forward to the most in 2014?
Will Daly - Fall training has been going great so far and especially well for me personally. I have had some big PRs and it is really exciting to see that I am still able to do that at 30 years old; it means I can definitely get stronger and faster.
I am really looking forward to see the boat come together in the coming year. We have a big group and it really seems to be pushing everyone to get better so hopefully we can improve upon the result we got last year.
row2k - How does training in Oklahoma City compare to all the other places you have trained?
Will Daly - Training in Oklahoma is like training anywhere else, it has its upsides and downsides. For the most part things are pretty good. I think we have the most state-of-the-art boathouse in the country (arguably world) and we can row year-round. People sometimes complain about the wind but in my mind it’s not really a bad thing as I have yet to go to an international regatta where it hasn’t been windy.