US crews who were racing in the B finals had the considerable motivation of qualifying their boat class for Rio, and today all but one crew in position to do so made it through, including the men's pair, the light men's double, the light women's double, and the men's four; the men's quad did not make the eight-boat cutoff.
I talked to several of the crew members; here is what they had to say.
" It's tough to believe that six weeks ago we were just hopping in the boat for the first time, so it is nice and it's good to qualify the boat, but at the same time we feel like we were capable of even more, Mike DiSanto said. "To an extent we're happy, but there's more there and I'd say we're both probably slightly disappointed to have missed out on the A final. We really went for it in the semi and just came up short."
"It's bittersweet, because I think we exceeded expectations, or other peoples' expectations, but our own expectations were higher," Tim Aghai said. "We're two competitive dudes and we rowed for a while so we were like, “Boom. A final? Let's try to win the medal. Why not?” Because there was nothing holding us back. So it is bittersweet but knowing where we were coming into this year - Mike was in school, training for another team and I was, who knows what I was doing? So we have a lot of people to thank but mostly just each other. 'Cause if it wasn't for one another, we wouldn't even get to get to this regatta."
"We had a lot of support as well; I think Sarah had confidence in us and I mentioned previously our parents and previous coaches just saying, “Look, you guys can do this.” Just having that support there and people texting you, watching your races in the middle of the night and getting up like that, that really means the world."
"It makes you think about what you're doing and say, well this is fun," Aghai said. "It's hard. People get nervous, people get emotional but you can say, look we're at the world championships in this beautiful place. We like each other. Our coach is pretty cool. It could be worse. We're trying to have some fun and fortunately between us and Sarah, I think the three of us know how to get the business done as well."
Both are looking forward to getting back to training, and if they could pick any seat for next year, would want to be in the eight.
"For both of us we want to keep improving, and I think we both probably want to be in the eight," DiSanto said. "That's the boat we grew up rowing, that's the boat that we really care a lot about and that's the boat I feel most at home in. And we want to be part of the boat that not just qualifies it for the Olympics, but goes on to medal. I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation to have, it's certainly setting the bar high but I think we have a great group of guys and I think maybe this year is a wake up call, and it's maybe right at the right time. There's a year to go, less than eleven months, but you can do a lot. There is a focused group, we feed off one another, I think that's where I would hope to be in a year's time, in the eight, getting ready to try medal at the Olympics. "
"Like he said, we've got the guys on the team, and I think everyone's heads are where they need to be now if they weren't before. And I think Mike and I proved to each other that we're invested and we'll do whatever it takes to get there."
"But if we have to go back through pairs trials, I wouldn't pick another guy to go out and race with," DiSanto said.
USA LM2x of Josh Konieczny and Andrew Campbell placed 8th and qualfied the event for Rio
Light Men's Double
"The main thing on our minds was just go out there and do what we know how to do, and we figured it should be enough to get us ahead of sixth place," stroke Josh Konieczny said.
"It was frustrating to us not to make the final and I feel like we deserved to be in that A final," Andrew Campbell said. "I think the real thrust behind this race was just going out and showing that we belong among those top crews. Unfortunately this week Josh had a pretty bad stomach bug, he was bedridden with a 101 degree fever on Tuesday, so that definitely didn’t help our week but we persevered and we got the job done."
"I feel good right now although I lost a kilo at least. I feel a tiny bit flat but I think I was close to 100% for that last race," he said.
"This is the first time we’ve qualified the boat since 2004," Campbell noted. "I went to the qualification regatta in 2012 and missed it, so I’m very familiar with how fast this field is, and I know we both appreciate that to be in amongst those top crews we can’t give away anything. We’re a pretty new crew still, most of the boats you see out there have been together for longer than a year so I think that in this coming year we’ll definitely pull together a little bit more just naturally with time and I definitely think we’re capable of challenging those top boats."
"I definitely second that," Konieczny said. "We’ve got 12 months to just match up a little bit better. It’s really all it is."
"I think that’ll start to show at the end of the race too," Campbell added. "Typically newer doubles have a harder time staying together through the last 500 so I think that’s definitely something that’s going to naturally improve."
Light Women's Double
The light women's double was the squeaker of the day for US crews as Michelle Sechser and Devery Karz rowed from sixth up into fifth late in the race to take the 11th and final spot for Rio.
The USA M4- of Seth Weil, Henrik Rummel, Glenn Ochal and Charlie Cole regrouped to win the B-Final
After illness hit two crew members, requiring a substitution for the semis, the US men's four won their B final today to place seventh, well under the cutoff of 11 crews for Rio.
"We left Princeton with a lot of speed," three-seat Henrik Rummel said. "We did our best work leading up to this regatta and we all came in expecting to win, but seemed to just have a lot of bad luck stack up. Grant did a really great job of coming in after a really tough race (in the eight) and then having to do it again (in the four). We nearly made it through it in the semi, but ultimately the only thing that really matters is getting to Rio. We know that 7th place doesn’t show a reflection of how fast we are but I’m really proud of the guys for putting up what we had to deal with and just the heart break of expecting the win and then having to worry about qualifying.
"We handled it well, got the job done, and we leave here in basically the same position as everyone else that qualified. We have a lot of work to do for next year. We know how fast we are, and I think it’s more disappointing because of that."
To rally for the B final, the crew got together and helped get each other on track.
"We had to ground ourselves a bit, and had a meeting just talking it out," he said. "I think we all left this meeting on Thursday night feeling okay and realizing that we have a job to do, and that we were not going to let this one failure define our boat. If you row long enough you’re going to have ups and downs, it just happens, happens to everyone. Some people get more of it than others, but if you keep working you’ll get through it. You can’t let it define you and I don’t think we let that happen."