April 4, 2011
SEATTLE - The Washington rowing program is once again well-represented on the national level, evidenced by the selection of five Huskies to USRowing's U23 training camp this year.
Kerry Simmonds, Madison Culp and Michelle Darby were all invited to the women's U23 National Team Camp, which will develop rowers and coxswains for the 2011 FISA U23 World Championships this summer, held in Amsterdam July 20-24. Erin Lauber and Ariana Tanimoto were assigned to the wait list.
For Simmonds, it's an opportunity to continue her career on the international level. The senior and team captain from San Diego rowed with the U23 women's 8+ last summer, capturing a gold medal in Belarus. She's made tremendous strides as an oarswoman since arriving at UW as a walk-on four years ago.
Her career arc is a prime example of how Washington rowing can take someone new to the sport and mold them into world champions.
Developing and cultivating talent for national programs is always a top priority at Conibear Shellhouse. Both Bob Ernst and Michael Callahan, the women's and men's coaches, respectively, feel the USRowing U23 experience is peerless in how it prepares athletes for the next level of the sport. In particular, both Ernst and Callahan championed the work of USRowing coaches Tom Terhaar and Anne Kakela.
What helps UW rowers succeed at USRowing camps is their fervent work in pair boats during the season. Ernst noted how Simmonds' dedication to training in a pair was a big reason to why she's able to sustain herself at U23s.
"Fortunately, (USRowing) uses the pair as the primary selection for the 23-and-under team," Ernst said.
Culp's selection marks her first appearance at a U23 camp. The sophomore from Seattle has already proven herself as a boat mover since she started rowing at UW, and a summer spent with the national coaches will help refine her technique on the water.
"She is one powerful rower," Ernst said. "I couldn't be more encouraging to Madison."
Darby is a coxswain for the men's crew at Washington, but will be looking to make an Amsterdam-bound boat for the women this summer. The senior from North Andover, Mass., has a sterling resume coxing various Husky boats, including two wins at the IRA Championships in 2008 and 2009.
Washington has a long legacy of coxswains who have participated at the national level, from Bob Moch (of the 1936 crew fame) to Mary Whipple and Katelyn Snyder, who coxed the men's varsity 8+ to a National Championship in 2009.
"Nice to see that legacy continue with Michelle's opportunity to try out," Callahan said. "She's a real talented, dynamic person who's been able to succeed in all aspects of her life."
Camp begins on June 2 in Oklahoma City at the High Performance Training Center. Then the U23 group moves on to New Jersey before final selections fly to Amsterdam for the U23 World Championships.