The No. 4 Michigan women”s crew team has won 11 of its 12 events this season, but will face a much more competitive field this weekend in Columbus including No. 2 Southern California and No. 7 Ohio State.
“We are all looking forward to this weekend because this is the first weekend we are going to be pushed,” said varsity eight rower Bernadette Marten.
Clemson, Iowa, Michigan State and Sacramento State will also race.
The first varsity eight boat races twice at 10:30 a.m. and at 2 p.m.
The afternoon race will be the more important of the two. In this race, Michigan will square off against Southern California, Ohio State and Michigan State. Although Ohio State and Michigan State are both good rowing teams, Michigan is intent on knocking off the second ranked Trojans.
“We”re really excited to race USC,” said senior Laurel Donnell-Fink. She added that she thinks this weekend will be even more important than the Big Ten Championships which the Wolverines will hold on April 28.
The Wolverines are confident not just because of the success they have had in competition, but also the progress the team has made in practice.
“It seems like every day we get a little more solid on the water,” Marten said.
During practice, Michigan has worked especially hard on consistency throughout its 2,000-meter races. Most teams race the four sections of the 2,000-meter at different stroke rates, starting and finishing the race especially strong. Michigan, on the other hand, races each 500-meter section equally except for a sprint at the end of the race.
“Our goal is to race every 500 meters the same,” Marten said.
Due to this strategy, the Wolverines might fall behind early in the races but catch up to the other boats by the end of the race. They are also especially strong in their sprint to the finishline.
This consistency requires tremendous fitness because by the last 500 meters the rowers are exhausted. But the team feels it can remain consistent because of their tremendous workout schedule this season. Each day of the season, Michigan practices in the afternoon for two to two-and-a-half hours. Approximately 70 minutes of its practice is spent on the water working on different pressures and stroke rates.
The Wolverines also practice three days a week in the morning for about forty minutes to an hour.
“I haven”t heard of teams doing workouts that we”ve been doing,” Donnell-Fink said.