by Maria Loutraris
On October 20th and 21st, 2012, the annual Head of the Charles regatta took place on the Charles River. The Head of the Charles is the biggest regatta in the world; so big that the bottom half of boats competing must enter a lottery to get in. Crew’s from England, Germany, China and Zimbabwe were represented that weekend. This year, our own Medford Rowing team entered the lottery as first year competitors and the girls landed a spot in the race under the Junior Women’s 4+’s category (4+ meaning four rowers with a coxswain).
Coxswain, junior Lian Blake lead sophomore Leanna Kantt, senior and co-captain Elizabeth Liu, senior Jennifer Frederick and junior Abby Candee to place 58th out of 85 total boats with a time of 21 minutes and 30 seconds. For a first year row on the Charles with 2 days of practice on the race course, this is the best accomplishment these girls have in their rowing careers. They were only 25 seconds short of a guaranteed spot in next year’s regatta.
Jen and Abby agreed that their experiences were “ A little intimidating, to say the least, but kind of awesome, I mean we were on the water, racing, with some of the best crews in the world. Then it felt like another race, you know, push as hard as you can and give it everything added “It was incredible, I was representing my team in the biggest regatta in the world. Plus, the Charles is gorgeous in the fall.” Lian replied in a comment “The hardest part was getting the right angle going under the Weeks Bridge.”
Elizabeth Liu, co-captain with Jackie Mclean, who was unable to participate in this race due to an elbow injury, felt “completely dead and just amazed. I couldn’t believe that we had just rowed in the Head of the Charles on the same race course as Olympians!” and the youngest member of the boat, Leanna “hadn’t a stroke left in her.”
As a spectator, eagerly watching with many other members of the team, I was proud of them, and speaking for the rest of the team and our coach Nicholas Wright, they were too. We cheered the girls on from different points of the race course, especially towards the difficult U turn and 90 degree turn. We cheered our Medford cheer, created by alumni coxswain (now coxswain for Merrimack College) Karissa Finnigan: “M.E.D.F.O.R.D Medford! Blue and white lets go and fight!” and watched as they pushed with every ounce of energy they had left to make it to the finish line.
Their bodies were in pain and their lungs on fire. Rowing is a sport of pure endurance and a mindset that keeps you going regardless of the pain. It is a true team sport, and as a member of the team, I’ve experienced what a team really means. These girls showed what “team” means by working together and giving it their all to be so successful in the biggest race in the world. Jen, Abby, Elizabeth, Leanna and Lian, Medford is proud of you all!