June 1, 2005
The Washington men's rowing team spent the last two weeks preparing for the IRA national championshps, June 2-4 in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Senior Dusan Nikolic (Belgrade, Serbia) rows in the No. 7 seat of the Huskies' fourth-ranked varsity eight crew. Last year he was a member of UW's national champion junior varsity eight crew. The Huskies brought home the silver medal in the varsity eight competition at the last two IRA Regattas.
Dusan spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing his thoughts on the upcoming IRA Championships.
GoHuskies.com: What have the UW crews been doing since the Pac-10 championships?
Dusan Nikolic: "We've been doing a lot of stuff. We've been doing a lot of drills to work on our technique and matching and stuff like that. We've also been doing a lot of pieces and seat racing, trying to improve everything."
GoHuskies.com: Do you feel good about where the varsity eight crew is in its preparation for the IRA Championships?
DN: "Oh yeah. We think that we gained a lot of speed since the Pac-10s. We're looking forward to the IRAs and think we'll do good."
GoHuskies.com: One of the unique aspects of rowing is that your coach leaves a few days before the team to drive the shells to New Jersey. What do you at practice while Coach Ernst is gone?
DN: "After Bob left, we used some old shells and old oars from previous years. It was only for three days and then we left for Princeton Saturday to practice in our racing boats. Bryan Volpenhein coached us. He was the stroke guy of the U.S. Olympic eight who won a gold medal in 2004. He's a great guy with lots of experience, lots of knowledge. He's helping us a lot. Michael Callahan is the freshman coach and he helps us out as well. We did some pieces with his freshman eight."
GoHuskies.com: You rowed in the winning junior varsity eight crew last year. What does it take to win a national championship?
DN: "It takes a lot of focus. You have to be 100 percent every day, every time, every practice."
GoHuskies.com: How difficult is the IRA format with three races in three days?
DN: "We've been working out and practicing for this all year. It's definitely different than any other races before. None of the other races are that intensive or come in such a short period of time. But, we are ready for that."
GoHuskies.com: How do you prepare to race against teams you haven't seen row before?
DN: "That's a big problem. Teams on the West Coast we know because we raced them several times during the season. But with East Coast teams you don't know. You just go. Whatever they do, you stay focused, you stay in your boat and keep to you rhythm and your race plan and it should be fine."
GoHuskies.com: Why did you to come to school at Washington?
DN: "My friend Marko (Petrovic) came here before me and he told me what a great place it is. He said that it has both a good education and one the best rowing programs in the country. That's what attracted me. I didn't visit here first, just came straight here. My first time in the U.S. I came straight to Seattle."
GoHuskies.com: Have you had an opportunity to travel and see any of the U.S. other than on rowing road trips?
DN: "Not yet, but I'm planning to. This is my senior year and after this I'm planning to take a little road trip, maybe coast-to-coast with my friends."
GoHuskies.com: What are your future career plans?
DN: "I have two more quarters left after this. So, I've got to take some more classes and then I'll try to get some internships. I'm pursuing a journalism career after this."
GoHuskies.com: Will you stay in the U.S. or go back home?
DN: "I don't know yet. When you finish college you need to get a job in order to get a working visa. If I get one, I can get a working visa and will probably stay here for a few years. "
GoHuskies.com: What do you think of the new Conibear Shellhouse?
DN: "It's unbelievable. I've never seen facilities as good as this one. I'm so sad that this is my last year and I only got a couple weeks in the new boathouse. It's a good thing for future generations. It's going to be a good thing for recruiting and it's going to be a good thing for practicing."