June 4, 2008
The Washington men's rowing team is in New Jersey, making their final preparations for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships. The three-day regatta runs from Thursday, June 5 through Saturday, June 7 on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Senior Toby Dankbaar (Sydney, Australia) rows in the No. 2 seat of the Huskies' top-ranked varsity eight crew. UW's undefeated top boat won last year and is seeking the school's first back-to-back IRA varsity eight titles since 1940 and 1941.
Toby spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing his thoughts on the upcoming IRA Championships.
GoHuskies.com: Your last race was at the Pac-10 Regatta and your varsity eight won the conference championships and the entire UW men's team swept every race despite 100-degree temperatures. What are your thoughts on that Pac-10 Regatta?
Toby Dankbaar: "It was a very good weekend and it was good to see all the crews doing well, right from the four all the way to the varsity eight. It was a great weekend, probably not conditions that we're used to, being so hot. Normally it's about 50-60 degrees in Seattle, but I think everyone handled it really well and we stayed hydrated. It was a bit of a tougher race than we were used to but it was nice to pull it off in the last little bit."
GoHuskies: What do you do to prepare for heat like that?
TD: "Just hydrate like a few days earlier - two to three days just drinking as much water as possible. Try to stay out of the sun, sleep and extra salt."
GoHuskies: Is it difficult when you haven't had that kind of hot weather to train in?
TD: "I think your body is definitely not used to it. The heat really got to me and it got to quite a few other guys but I think everyone handled it really well.
GoHuskies: Were you worried at any time during the Pac-10 varsity race?
TD: "I don't know about worried. I think we definitely have had a few races where we've been right in contention with other boats and I think the guys handled it really well. We always know that we've got 2,000 meters to show our stuff and if anyone wants to hang with us they've really got to work hard in that first thousand.
GoHuskies: Was that the first time you guys have had to do put the hammer down on that final sprint?
TD: "San Diego was another pretty close race, we were tied even coming into the thousand. Definitely this was a really tough race just with the heat and having to put it down in the last little bit.
GoHuskies: The UW varsity eight is in position to win back-to-back national championships. Are you aware of how long it's been since the UW accomplihed that?
TD: "No, I'm not sure actually but I think it's probably been a while. It's definitely an exciting time for Washington rowing and I look forward to getting out there."
GoHuskies: The last time UW won back-to-back IRA championships was 1940 and 1941.
TD: "We've been training really hard and we'll try to win it again. There should be some great races at the IRA because there will be some really good crews there."
GoHuskies: What has your career been like at Washington?
TD: "I was in the freshman eight then I was in varsity but I didn't row at IRA's last year. I returned to the varsity again this year."
GoHuskies: What did you do between last year and this year to get back into the varsity boat?
TD: "Just make sure to train hard every day and I kept a good focus through the winter. I know from last year I had a lot of motivation to get back in the varsity boat. Just keep working hard and just worked on rowing and technical stuff."
GoHuskies: How is your family connected to rowing?
TD: "Both my mom and my dad rowed. That's how they met. My dad coached my mom for a while. My dad rowed in a lot of Australian boats. He rowed the in 1980 Olympic eight and they got fifth in the final, which was pretty good for Australia. My mom rowed in lightweights. I think she won a world championship race and in Canada she won a race. They both have been involved with coaching forever in Australia. My dad coached for the 1994 Los Angeles Olympics. Now they just both coach together at a girl's school.
GoHuskies: Your parents were at the Pac-10's in Sacramento, but do they see many of your races?
TD: "The last few they've come to see are the Windermere Cup and Pac-10's. This year they're going to stay for IRA's so I'm pretty excited about that.
GoHuskies: Being the child of two rowers, was there pressure on your to be a rower?
TD: "I was interested in other sports as well - soccer, rugby and racquet sports. There was never really pressure. I would always go out on the coaching launch with my dad because he was obviously coaching when I was younger. Right after school he'd pick me up, straight to practice and I'd just sit in there like messing around in the boat and stuff. When I was getting a little older, they said, 'It's up to you if you want to do it. If you're going to do it, make sure your heart is in it.'"
GoHuskies: How did you decide to attend the University of Washington?
TD: "I'd never really thought about going to the U.S. and then Sean Mulligan was at one of our national regattas down in Australia and he handed out his card to a few of the guys in our high school boat. I got in contact with Michael (Callahan) and Sean and looked into it. My parents came out on my recruiting trip because I was training for world juniors and finishing off high school.
GoHuskies: Now that you've been in the program for four years, what are your thoughts on Washington rowing?
TD: "I think it's amazing. I never expected to come into such a prestigious program with such a history. The program's really stepping up and doing really well lately. It's been great.
GoHuskies: What are you majoring in and what are your plans after college?
TD: "My major is sociology. I think I'll move back home with my parents if they want me to move back home. I've still got one more year left on my visa after I finish school so maybe hang out, travel and then look for a job. I haven't really decided what I want to do yet.
GoHuskies: Thank you for your time and good luck at the IRA Championships.
TD: "Thank you."