April 13, 2011
Be sure to check out second "Eye of the Husky" video below, which gives you a first-hand perspective of a 2K training piece on Lake Samish.
SEATTLE - Training trips are nothing new for the men's crew program at the University of Washington. But Michael Callahan is constantly looking to improve the quality of the secluded training experience for his student-athletes, whether it is a trip to the Olympic facility in San Diego or a cross-country ski excursion to the Methow Valley.
The latest was a short drive up I-5 to Lake Samish near Bellingham, where the Huskies used the glass water conditions to fine tune their speed. Staying in cabins away from cellular service, the bonding experience allowed the team to re-focus on their season goals.
In the late 1960s, traveling to Bellingham to train was a regularity when the Huskies were coached by Dick Erickson, who wanted to take his team outside of Seattle for Spring Break. In the program's early years, the Huskies regularly scrimmaged the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Callahan enjoyed the Lake Samish experience so much he's taking his team back up to Bellingham this weekend for more training in preparation for the Cal Dual on April 23.
"It's a setting where we're able to get a better fix on how the boat is running and what to improve on without much distractions," Callahan said. "The sole focus is improvement."
The Huskies enjoy one of the best training environs in college rowing - Lake Washington. But as warmer weather comes to Seattle there is an increase in boat traffic, meaning coxswains have to be fully aware of obstacles such as motoring yachts. On bucolic Lake Samish, the Huskies are able to focus on what's going on in the boat.
Because of the flat water and predictable winds, the Huskies took advantage of the conditions to formulate lineups for the top two eights. This involved a lot of punishing seat-racing, as Callahan alternated rowers in the eights for 2,000-meter pieces at all-out intensity.
One of the ancillary benefits to the trip is the seclusion. The Huskies stay at lakeshore residence of volunteer assistant Carlos Dinares, whose home doubles as a boathouse. For dinners, the team ventures into Bellingham for dinner but remain unplugged throughout the weekend. Card games and conversation take the place of video games and Facebook.
"Cell phones don't really work there (on Lake Samish) and the kids are not bringing their computers," Callahan said. "With student-athletes nowadays, they have so many things competing for their attention. And it's a very competitive environment on school and down here in the boathouse. When you can get it where they focus on one thing, they're relieved."
Senior Anthony Jacob said the atmosphere for these trips rivals those of a national team camp. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native spent his summer training with the Canadian National Team in Victoria, and enjoyed how the distraction-free environment in Bellingham was able to focus his boat.
"You get a lot of one-on-one coaching with Mike, and you don't have to deal with all these obstacles like buoys, other crew teams, etc," Jacob said. "It's an amazing training facility; like having a private lake to yourself. Where else can you travel a short distance and still get that type of training?"
In the future, Callahan added that he wants his rowers to better understand the state and region where they live and train. He's talked about future training trips to the Olympic Peninsula and Eastern Washington.
"I feel it's great that we're able to venture into these communities and showcase University of Washington rowing," Callahan said. "It's been fun to build some relationships around the state. We don't want to be just about Seattle."