Not just another boat ride: Team experiences success at club level

Members are selected after a greuling two week tryout process. Once on the team, members practice five days a week at Ken Lake or in the McLean Center underneath the Carr Health Building. || Photo courtesy of Murray State Rowing

Members are selected after a greuling two week tryout process. Once on the team, members practice five days a week at Ken Lake or in the McLean Center underneath the Carr Health Building. || Photo courtesy of Murray State Rowing

With a rich history in schools across the nation and in the Olympics, rowing is a sport of teamwork, discipline and ambition. Collegiate teams from around the country compete all year in a series of boat races called Regattas to prove themselves as the best. Not only is rowing a sport of rigorous competition, but one of prestige and formality.

Added to the list of club sports in 1996, Murray State entered the world of rowing with an organized and dedicated team. Though not an official NCAA sport at Murray, the rowing team is highly competitive, traveling all year long.

“We actually compete against prestigious schools such as Vanderbilt, Yale and Harvard,” Junior Captain Kelsey GreenLayne said. “We also have seen bigger state schools like the University of Louisville and Kansas.”

The main goal of rowing is to beat other boats in a 5-kilometer race. There are different classes of rowing, including a lightweight class for males under 160 pounds and females under 130 pounds.

A race can have boats for one, two, four or eight rowers. On the bow of the boat, a coxswain receives information on how fast the boat is going through a computer. From that point, they can instruct the team to speed up or slow down.

Murray State attends a Regatta, or boat race at the end of the season each year. Last season, the team traveled to Gainesville, Ga. to compete in the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championship.

The men’s varsity eight team competed against Kansas State and Michigan State, placing second with a final time of 7:20.

The women’s novice eight team finished sixth out of eight in front of Colorado University and The Ohio State, while the women’s varsity four team placed second in the finals.

Unlike most interest clubs, the rowing team has a two-week-long tryout process to select all the members.

“Our goal is to win and to also be really competitive,” GreenLayne said. “We take it seriously. We’re fast.”

Potential members are scheduled to try out for one hour a day, five days a week. Workouts consist of rowing exercises on ergometer rowing machines, as well as a basic tutorial on stroke form and good rowing habits. GreenLayne said the team is most interested in a motivated attitude and willingness to push limits.

“We want competitive people who want to be here,” she said. “Without people like that, you can’t win.”

Once the roster is finalized, the team is required to practice five days a week. While some practices stay in the McLean center under the Carr Health Building, other practices can be in open water.

“We only like to practice inside during tryouts, cold weather and rainy days,” GreenLayne said. “But when it’s nicer out and the weather is warm, we go out to (Kentucky Lake).”

Murray State’s rowing team wants to send the message that they are ready and able to compete against the nation’s best. It takes an underdog to make an underdog story, and the rowers are preparing to go head-to-head in big competition.

Story by Carly Besser, Staff Writer.