Michelle Guerette was looking at a long stretch of summer without a race, when Radcliffe Coach Liz O'Leary had the idea that Henley might be an interesting diversion. With some high-pressure racing coming late in the summer, Henley was considered an excellent training jaunt with the added benefit of being relatively low-pressure and fun. So the Princess Royal Challenge it is!
"It looks like a cupcake!" said Guerette of Henley-on-Thames. Yes, this delightful little town with white buildings and chocolate (er, brown) roofs does look like a confection. But the water on the course has been less than sweet. Guerette has had some of her early rounds in currents and cross winds that have been tossing around even the best on the course, she says, "I kept worrying I was going to catch a crab!" Contacting her friends back in Boston, she likened the Thames to the Charles as you pass under Longfellow Bridge…for 2000 meters.
Note that Guerette speaks with an exclamation point at the end of every sentence, an exuberant gal… and you can see this energy in her rows.
Early in the spring, the National Selection Regatta on Mercer Lake was cancelled due to weather, leaving Guerette, who earned a fifth at last's years World Cup in Eton, England, and fifth in the World Cup stops in Lucerne and Munich as well, without a qualifying time to get to World's as a member of the United States team. A rescheduled event on July 30 at Mercer in Princeton, NJ is her next big gig; she will be heading to back to Boston in the interim to train with Charley Butt. She said a couple times a week she does pieces with the Riverside lightweight men, which hardly seems fair to the boys. Besides that she adds, "It's just me and the speed coach."
She says this trip has been very enjoyable, with the Radcliffe team as her cheering section (see this very precarious at-the-boom arrangement of the gals as she cheers her on), and getting to know the women has been a bonus of staying at the same house on Rotherfield Road in Henley-on-Thames.
She also is here with fellow quad mate from Athens, Hilary Gehman, who was in the early round of the Princess Royal Challenge, but did not advance. Gehman is here as Cornell coach as well, getting fired up about the success of the men's lightweight squad thus far.
Guerette's goal is to go as the Women's 1x competitor to the 2008 Olympics. We'll be watching Michelle, catch ya' after the race against Jennifer Goldsack of Wallingford Rowing Club. Happy Birthday also to Jennifer, who celebrates on July 12. One note folks, not to make any predictions, but Guerette's semifinal time was 9 seconds faster. Let's see if she can be Princess Michelle on Sunday.