BELLEVILLE – With its fall season underway, the Michigan women’s rowing team launched out onto the water, eager to find out where it matched up against the competition. Led by seniors Stesha Carle, Janine Hanson and Cristin McCarty, the Wolverines raced three varsity eight boats against Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan and Michigan State yesterday.Instead of racing neck-to-neck – as is usually done in rowing – the boats raced in a head style, similar to time trials, in which the boats leave the starting line at 25-second intervals. This new format, which will be used for much of the fall season, eliminates the direct competition between boats on the water because the rowers never know which boat is in the lead or has won until the race is over. Instead, the rowers find themselves racing against the clock and trying to determine whether or not they have decreased their distance from the boat in front of them during the race. In addition, the new format of the three-kilometer race pushed the starting line further down Belleville Lake. This added several turns to the course that are usually absent from the event, typically two kilometers.”I think it is good, but clearly the format is very different,” coach Mark Rothstein said. “It is much more dependent on the coxswain steering, but I think that there were a lot of variables today. But at this time in the year, I thought it was a good format to use.”Michigan considered this meet – as well as its other meets in the fall season – a warmup for the spring season and an opportunity to judge how comfortable its crews are in the water. “It’s good to see these teams because it gives us a starting point to see how far along we are at this point in the season,” Hanson said. “I think the first time in the water against other teams we kind of realized that we need to take what we learned in practice and apply it to the races. It’s a good opportunity to see where we are and how we are doing in the water.”While Hanson’s boat won two out of the three races – and came in second place in the last race – the team knows these finishes are not accurate representations of how the boats will perform the rest of the season. The lineups used in this race will more than likely not carry through to the end of the season and were just used yesterday to see how the rowers performed in the water. Throughout the season, the lineups will be altered dozens of times in order to find the perfect fit for success in the postseason.”We change our lineups daily at this point in the season just so we can get a chance to row with everyone,” Carle said. “That allows us to get some different lineups together and get more practice in.”With a roster consisting mainly of underclassmen, many of the rowers are still wet behind the ears and are using these races as vital learning experiences. Heading into this meet, Rothstein was well aware that the team has a lot more work to do both in the gym and out on the lake. “I think we will be faster a week from now than we were today, and we will be that much faster the week after,” Rothstein said. “I just think we are going to be getting better each week. It will just be a matter of getting better and improving. I like this team. I think they are great, but we have a long way to go.”

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