Sept. 5, 2011
SEATTLE - The Washington crew program prides itself for not only a high level of success on the collegiate level, but also how it prepares rowers for the next level of competition. This summer, both current and former Huskies backed up that declaration on the international stage.
Overall, the program has ties with 10 oarsmen and oarswomen who won medals at the U-23 and senior world championships. Several more were part of boats that qualified at worlds for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Those who had qualifying success in the latter competition have put themselves in excellent position to race in the Summer Games, the premier competition in the sport of rowing.
The U-23 experience provided additional coaching and elite racing opportunities for the younger Huskies, better preparing them for the 2011-12 regular season. The benefits of rowing internationally extend beyond collecting medals. Intense on-the-water practices with the national team coaches refine technique and offer a higher level of competition. For their part, the Huskies feel they are one of the best programs at preparing rowers for national team duty because of their dedication to training in small boats during the regular season.
According to men's coach Michael Callahan, this has been and will continue to be the ethos of Husky rowing, in lockstep with winning National Championships. While the Huskies continue to recruit rowers that fit the program's ideals, they also seek to develop them to succeed beyond the collegiate level.
"The performance of our former and current student-athletes demonstrates the success of the Washington rowing development program," Callahan said.
At the senior world championships in Bled, Slovenia, six Huskies won medals for their respective national programs. This group included three Canadian men who have made a considerable impact on the UW team, including rising senior Conlin McCabe, most recently the 6-seat of the varsity eight boat that won a National Championship last season. McCabe will spend the upcoming season in Victoria, British Columbia, training with Rowing Canada in hopes of making the Olympic-bound eight. He's hoping to be joined by Rob Gibson and Will Crothers, rowers from Kingston, Ontario, who helped turn around the Husky program recently as integral parts on two national championship teams.
On the U-23 level, the USA men's eight featured a trio of Huskies (Ty Otto, Robert Munn and Alex Bunkers), two of whom return next season. Despite the short break after the collegiate season ended, the boat was in impressive form at Amsterdam en route to winning a gold medal.
Several Huskies qualified for U-23s in a bit more unconventional fashion. The USA open 4 was comprised of five Huskies who went through the selection process in Mercer, N.J., and raced together at Amsterdam. While the boat finished sixth, the experience was invaluable, considering just one rower (A.J. Brooks) had donned the USA shirt in competition before. Another Husky in that group - Patrick Marre - had yet to race for the Huskies in his first two seasons, but made considerable gains late last year to merit selection.
Naturally, this makes Conibear Shellhouse an inspiring place to be right now. The opportunity to coach and develop such rowers is what fuels Callahan, a UW alum who's entering his fifth season with the program.
"With the success of the USA U-23 team and our varsity eight we are looking forward to seeing more talented and driven Huskies in the Olympic Games," Callahan said. "The tradition continues."