The San Diego Crew Classic has always been one of Dan Walsh's favorite races.
And when he returned to his Norwalk, Connecticut, roots after a long career on the US national team and started coaching in the Maritime Rowing Club, where he got his beginnings in the sport as a sculler, Walsh began looking for a way to combine his love of the Southern California early spring sweep event and his passion for sculling.
So, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the US men's eight called another US Olympian and former teammate, Luke Walton, who is now the Crew Classic Director of Operations, and asked what it would take to add a high school quad to the Crew Classic schedule.
"I called Luke and asked him what the barrier would be to getting a quad in, and he said it would be about interest," Walsh said. Walsh said Walton agreed to take it to the Crew Classic race organizers and see what they thought. "He said he would run it by the board. Then he called me later and told me, 'it looks like it is going to go through. Make sure you send quads here'."
And Walsh did. In fact, he brought two New Canaan High School quads.
Saturday morning, Walsh saw his efforts pay off as he stood on the beach on Mission Bay to watch both of his boys sculling crews have the opportunity to open the regatta in the first event of the day and advance to the Sunday final.
"It's great to see this," said Walsh.
But more than being happy about the performance of his New Canaan High School crews, Walsh was excited to see the addition of sculling into a traditional sweep-only regatta.
"When I moved back to Connecticut and began coaching at Maritime and started helping (head coach Yan Vengerovskiy), I wanted to help find new opportunities for the sculling program."
"Sculling has been in the sport as long as the sport has existed," he said. "We have sculling at the junior level and junior worlds. Obviously, I have a love affair with the eight, but expanding sculling allows more opportunity for smaller programs to try and build.
"I remember falling in love with rowing and wanting to become an Olympian because of watching the '96 quad win silver in Atlanta. I think we forget about how great that was, a bunch of no-name college guys trained by Igor Grinko who almost chased down the Germans. So, watching that on TV as a kid in high school then, that's what I thought rowing was," he said.
"So, this is about trying to bring some growth back into something that is very organic, and having it be at this race, it's great."