Rowing travels to Alabama for spring training

For spring break, the Mercyhurst University men’s and women’s rowing teams traveled to Eufaula, Ala., for training.

The teams trained at Lake Lanier, Ga., until this year. Head Coach Adrian Spracklen found a new location in Alabama to train during spring break this year.

“Alabama offers the best weather we could ask for in terms of training three times a day for a week,” said sophomore Brian Comey. “It wasn’t too hot or too cold; however, I imagine anywhere down south would seem nice after spending a winter in Erie.”

The 14-hour drive took longer than expected. As the Lakers traveled into Ohio, they were involved in a traffic accident.

Friday was the first day of training, starting at 7 a.m. The team came back in the middle of the day for a “tech practice” which was followed by a hard training session.

“We practiced three times a day because coach knew when we got back that the lake would be frozen still,” said Comey. “Every practice, we went in with the mentality of ‘do as much as you can.’”

About 40 people attended the trip to Alabama. Practices consisted of three boats, each with eight men and a coxswain. The women took two boats with the same number of people in each boat as the men.

In the middle of the day, the athletes were allowed to take out smaller pair and single boats. This allowed them to work on their technique, according to Comey. Then they returned to their morning formation in the afternoon for head-to-head races.

“I don’t think it could’ve gone any better for the team,” said Comey. “Our coach had expectations going in, and we pretty much hit all of them. We just built speed from day one.”

The hard work during the weeklong training session paid off, Comey said. The men had a scrimmage against the United States Naval Academy in Oak Ridge, Tenn. on their way home.

“When we went out against the Navy, I think a lot of guys were surprised with the results of the race,” Comey said.

The scrimmage was unconventional, Comey said. Instead of racing once and then leaving, the Lakers raced multiple pieces against the Navy. They raced three eight-minute pieces, some six-minute pieces and some one-minute pieces, Comey said. The coaches were together in boats behind the racers as well.

“It was more like a competitive practice than a scrimmage,” Comey said.

The team’s goals for the upcoming season include medaling at the Dad Vail Regatta and the Eastern Sprints for the men’s freshman eight. Varsity’s top four men look to medal at the Dad Vail as well, along with the International Rowing Association Championship.

“You can always use the spring training trip as a gauge for the spring season,” said Comey, “and this year went especially well.”