A Stroke Forward: Rowers at Pres


Anjali Sinha, Reporter

Sweat rolls down her face as her muscles flex to pull the oar back. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. The rhythm of her breathing. One, two, stroke. The finish line is in sight.

Rowing, or crew, is a grueling sport that requires explosive strength, precisely synchronized moves, and killer endurance as teams work to race their boats across the water. The sport requires dedication and commitment and is very rewarding for the athletes.

On November 15, seniors Alexandra McCale, Delanie Becerra and Kelly Leonard signed on to continue rowing at Syracuse University, Loyola Marymount University and San Diego State University respectively. The three are members of the Los Gatos Rowing Club and spend their practices at the Lexington Reservoir in the Santa Cruz mountains. After having completed their novice year, each moved on to join the Varsity Women’s Squad.

With regard to her collegiate career, Becerra said, “I hope to make my team faster and be part of its success as a whole. You can’t play this sport without teammates and the help of coaches, so I’m excited to see what the LMU women’s rowing team can do and how much faster we can get together.”

This activity engages all of the major muscle groups and is physically demanding. They put in long hours off the water as well. They work out constantly to give them the best advantage possible in races.

Becerra said, “When I first joined, fitness was a huge challenge. Rowing definitely centers around physical capability and has many technical aspects to it as well. I had to put in a lot of work to get back into shape at the beginning of my novice year.”

With practices ranging from 2.5 to 4 hours depending on the day, the athletes must maintain the right frame of mind. “It’s a very challenging sport — both physically and mentally — and can be extremely time consuming, but all of the effort is very, very worth it. Rowing has made me who I am and encourages me to always work as hard as possible,” said McCale.

Given the structure of the sport, rowing is heavily based on teamwork and the group’s efforts as a whole. This team bonding creates friendships that will last a lifetime and memories that will never fade.

“I was racing in a 4 [boat that seats four rowers] during our spring season my novice year, which is more competitive than our fall season. I remember fighting hard to beat some of our rivals who were right next to us. When we finished, we had beaten… our biggest rivals. That meant we got first place. In that moment, we reached a new level of intensity together, and it was such a great feeling to experience with my teammates,” said Becerra.

Despite the fact that three of the four athletes who have signed to play in college have been for rowing, Presentation does not have a team of its own. The irony is not lost on them, but these athletes understand the difficulties that come with starting a high school rowing program.

Becerra pointed out,“It’s a really hard sport to have a high school team for. You need a lot of people on a team. My team has about 30 girls, which is large compared to most sports. The equipment, including boats, launches, oars, unisuits, ergs [indoor rower], bikes, and much more, adds up quickly. Plus, you need a large body of water to practice on like our reservoir.”

Actually, there are quite a few Pres girls who row. Oftentimes, these students are not involved in many school-related activities due to their time commitment outside.

Nevertheless, this is not entirely a bad thing. “While Pres could definitely get a lot out of having a rowing team, without one, it also gives girls an advantage to meet people from other schools and get involved in the community,” said McCale.

Regardless of where students participate, rowing allows athletes to escape their daily problems and immerse themselves into this fun and social activity. The girls that have joined value every minute of it, and hope to continue in the future.