Let the race BEGIN!
Hundreds of practices have led us to this point in the season: the first day of racing at our national championships! Though not all crews raced today, all thoughts were on races to come in the days ahead. This weekend is what our athletes have been training for all year, and finally the time had come for them to show their speed against some of the best high school crews in Canada and the United States.
Friday morning brought sunshine and much more hospitable temperatures. For those crews not racing, practice started at the relatively pedestrian (by rowing standards) hour of 7am. Flat water meant great practices and increasingly buoyed spirits. Then came the racing.
The Junior Boys 4+ was Brentwood’s first crew to come down the course. From the grandstands they were urged through the finish line by a throng the non-racing athletes, as well as a large number of parents, relatives and family friends who have come to watch the racing this weekend. Finishing third in their heat, they impressively qualified for the semi-finals on Saturday with the third fastest time overall. That is the type of thing that happens when it comes to random draws – fast boats can meet fast boats early on.
This race set the tone for the rest of the day of racing, which saw the Junior Girls 4+, the Senior Boys 2x, and the Senior Boys 4+ all qualify to compete in Saturday semi-finals. The most impressive result of the afternoon was the Senior Boys 4+ who won their heat by 11 seconds over Toronto rowing powerhouse Upper Canada College and had the fastest qualifying time of all boats. Brentwood will compete in 14 semi-finals tomorrow.
With racing completed for the day at just after 1pm, our athletes headed back to the hotel to have lunch, clean up and do some prep. These are the moments I am most in awe of our students; with over 3000km between them and their academic classroom, at their biggest sporting event of year, these athletes are still dedicated students. Tests were taken, hebden was toiled over, and novels were cherished… though only for a limited time.
At 4:30pm the athletes loaded into the vans once again and headed down to the rowing course for their last practice of the year. Down to edge of the Royal Canadian Henley course they marched their four mighty 8+s. All proudly adorned in Brentwood gear, the students took to the water one last time. Sometimes people think rowers are crazy for training so much, but, like Steph Curry does a shoot around before an NBA finals game to find his rhythm, our athletes do their repetitions so their muscles are trained to find a racing rhythm. Come semi-finals tomorrow and finals on Sunday, they know that the last 500m of the race will hurt. Training their bodies to perfect the movements of rowing, and to know the race rhythm means that when they feel the pain building up, they can shut off their brain and rely on their body to take over. Our rowers understand this theory, and this is why, despite all the work they have done over the course of the year to get ready for CSSRAs, they were excited to get on the water to pound off this one last training session.
Preparation done, the team broke up into crew dinners. The girls went one way, the boys the other. At these dinners, laughs were shared and memories of the season were traded. The moments of today, though fleeting, are precious. This weekend is what rowing is all about; hard work and camaraderie.
The hard work and countless hours of preparation are done, or as one of my good friends used to say, “The hay is in the barn.” Now, let the races continue, for Brentwood is ready…
Written by: Mr. Wismer