After a race debriefing with coach Judith Vogel, Riverside lightweight men's single scullers Brendan Harrington and Christopher Lambert Rogers gave each other a powerful high five before getting ready to leave the Mercer boathouse after Thursday morning semifinals at the USRowing speed order. Neither had won their semi, but both were part of a Riverside High Performance team goal to put all of their scullers into tomorrow's A Final; tomorrow they will be joined by teammates Peter Schmidt and Jacob Georgeson to fill up four of the six lanes in the final.
"Our goal going into this was for all four of us to make the A final," Harrington said. "The regatta has been as much about supporting each other as about competing with another." But that's not to say that knowing your competition well – these are your friends and even roommates - doesn't have upsides.
"In practice we're all pretty close to one another, so knowing that allows us to gauge our speed through the base," he said. "In my semi today, having Pete and Jake next to me and knowing that I can stay with them gave me a lot of confidence through the middle. So for me having all my teammates here has been good for my pieces, good for my races, good for the whole experience."
"It's been a goal of ours as a group to find common goals and build speed together," Lambert Rogers added. "Brendan and I come from college programs where we saw the intrasquad competition really lent to the development and be friends and be positive about it ends up moving the whole group forward. Then when you show up to an event, whether you are in the same boat or competing against each other, you've built that speed together and you can lean on each other."
Despite the considerable challenges that always come with club rowing at the elite level, clubs appear to be showing a bit of a resurgence at present, at least at this first speed order of the new quadrennial. The singles finals in particular are filled with a diverse cross-section of scullers, with Riverside joined by Craftsbury, Penn AC, Potomac, Cambridge, ARION, BIAC, GMS, USTC, Schuylkill Navy and Vesper.
Vesper heavy men's single sculler JP Kirkegaard (who may be related to the Danish philosopher, but the lineage is a bit cloudy) finds himself in a similar situation, racing here against a group of scullers hailing from the two neighboring boathouses on the Schuylkill, Vesper and Penn AC; Craftsbury sculler John Graves is the only non-Boathouse Row scullers in the final.
Kirkegaard won a very tight semifinal in which the top four finished within 3.38 seconds of one another at the finish line; all four of whom row in Philadelphia.
"The training plan we have been since back to post-Olympics has been mostly long and low; lots of miles, lots of base work," he said. "The past couple weeks was the first chance we have been up anywhere near race pace, so it feels good to let the horses fly a little bit.
"Today I wanted to have a solid piece; not necessarily everything, but solid. Then when you get into the last 500, and people are starting to jostle a little bit, well then, you know, the testosterone kicks in and you say to yourself 'well, I am going to try to stay in front,'" he laughed.
Of racing a heap of friends and neighbors, Kirkegaard echoed the sentiment of other club rowers.
"It's fun! It harkens back a bit to when we get together on the Schuylkill and throw down, bash each other a little bit, and see what we can do," he said. "Lenny and I have been bashing our heads against each other for a while, so we feel good out here racing. The Penn AC guys we know a bit less about, but with Lenny, he knows me and I know him, and it's great to race with him."
For full results and tomorrow's schedule, see https://www.herenow.com/results/#/races/20392/results.