Row the boat: an unusual sport for a Midwestern state

Sports Commentary by SarahCronin

In a state known for its fields of corn, rowing is not the first sport that comes to mind when one thinks of Nebraska. The Omaha Rowing Association is the only junior rowing club in the state. Three of the 7 team members are current Marian students, sophomore Kathleen Maguire, junior Ellie Kripal and me. The team practices at Carter Lake in Iowa, at the same boathouse where the Creighton women’s rowing team practices. Along with Marian girls, Central and Duchesne students are also on the team. The team practices on the water as long as the lake remains unfrozen. When it does freeze over, they continue into the dreaded indoor winter training. 

The indoor rowing machine, known as an ergometer or “erg”, is the perfect way for rowers to lower their race times and build strength. “Erging is physically tough but also mentally straining.”  Maguire said. While rowers must focus on self improvement, the sport is extremely team-oriented. Having a synchronized team is important to maintaining a stable, non-tipping boat and prevent “catching crabs,” the unfortunate event of an oar getting caught under the water in a horizontal position, which can completely halt the boat and cause general chaos. 

Row the boat • Members of the Omaha Rowing Association, including sophomore Kathleen Maguire, junior Ellie Kripal and senior Sarah Cronin will have practice at Carter Lake until the water freezes.

Carter Lake is an s-shaped lake with a long straight away, perfect for practicing two kilometer races and quiet enough that rowers don’t have to worry about dealing with the wake of speedboats. Most speedboats would not want to spend their Monday morning out on the lake at 6:30 a.m., so rowers take advantage of the clear lake by having early morning practices. As the fall season began, the practice time changed to 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 6 a.m. on Saturdays. While the commitment to early wake-up calls and grueling practices can be intimidating, rowers Mary Kate Burke and Ellie Maguire, Central juniors who previously attended Marian, reassure that loving the sport makes the early morning practices worth it.. Over the summer the team rowed at competitions in Denver and Kansas with two other regattas  Competitions are few and far apart compared to competitions in other coastal regions of the country because there are so few clubs in the Midwest. As the season begins to finish up, the team competed at the Head of the Des Moines on Sept. 28 and will have their final regatta in Wichita Kansas on Nov. 3rd, properly named the “Frostbite Regatta,” as temperatures are predicted to be in the 50s. 

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