Women’s rowing takes to the water again

The women’s rowing team at Robert Morris University has begun their latest season with 15 to 20 novice rowers and 26 varsity members.

“I’m so excited to coach these women this year. Each brings great enthusiasm and athleticism to this team,” declared head coach Midge Mcphail.

Mcphail’s expectation for this coming year is to better the team’s speed. As a result, the squad will be able to make the top 10 percent of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, if not become the best.

The novice rowers, without any collegiate rowing experience, are headed mainly by assistant coach and RMU alumni, Nelle Stahura.

“Rowing is a huge opportunity for girls to find potential in themselves that they had never known before,” Stahura asserted.

The season begins in early fall, and stretches to late spring, with an off-season in the winter. The current schedule has not yet been finalized, but the team will be racing in the Dad Vail Regatta this May.

The team meets from Monday to Saturday, with transportation to practice arriving at 5:45 a.m. each morning for the varsity team, and 6:45 a.m. for the novice team. The teams return to campus at 8:15 a.m.

For on-water practices, the team is split into groups for the four and eight-man boats, with a coxswain adding a fifth or ninth person.

On-water workouts vary; during some practices, boats race each other, while in others, the rowers cover long distances.

When the rowers arrive back on land, they must remove the oars, carry the boats back to tie down and hose off, and pull the outboards back onto shore.

Off-water practices take place at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island. Rowers hook their feet into the stirrups rowing machines, nicknamed ergs, and pull on a lever connected by a chain.

Machine workouts vary. The most common are timed workouts, in which the rower has to keep an average pace for a certain amount of minutes.

Less common is a distance workout, in which a rower must finish a set of meters, while holding the correct average pace.

Rounding out the workouts is the watts test, in which a rower exerts energy, read in watts.

It’s not too late to become a rower! No experience is needed. For further information, contact either Midge Mcphail at [email protected], or Nelle Stahura at [email protected].