As the rowing team prepares for the upcoming season, coach Rebecca Grzybowski has many reasons to be excited. But one specific reason may help the second-year coach take her team to the next level.
Temple added four new boats to its fleet: an eight-person boat, a four-person boat and a pair of two-person boats. The two bigger boats were made by Hudson Boatworks. The smaller boats were manufactured by Wintec, an official boat supplier of U.S. rowing. Wintec has been endorsed by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who competed in the coxless pair rowing event in the 2008 Olympics. They were also portrayed as prominent characters in the 2010 film “The Social Network.
Hudson is also a popular rowing brand, helping athletes earn a collective 73 medals at the Olympics and World Rowing Championships since 1984.
Grzybowski said she was able to seal the deal for the new boats through the athletic department.
“We had a meeting with our AD [interim athletic director Kevin Clark] and our business office, and got approval for them over the summer,” Grzybowski said. “We placed the order, and they should be here over the next week or so.”
Earlier this year, Temple withdrew its proposal to build a new boathouse to the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commission. The university’s reason for withdrawing was its new development plan, Visualize Temple, the process all new development proposals will now go through. The original proposal had been made before Visualize Temple existed.
As of a letter dated April 30, Temple was still exploring the possibility of renovating the East Park Casino House for use of the rowing teams.
Even with new boats, Grzybowski wants to move the storage location closer to the Schuylkill River, where the team practices.
“They’re really heavy,” Grzybowski said. “Every morning we have to carry our oars down, and then have to come back and get the boats. It definitely eats up about 30 minutes of practice time that we could be spending on the water.”
“When it’s that long of a walk, it kind of puts some angry thoughts in your head until you get the boat on the water,” senior co-captain Sarah Barber said.
“We’re pretty excited because the boats we have now are all sweep,” Megan Boyer, another senior co-captain, said. “The ones we’re getting are a combination of sweep and sculling, or just straight sculling, which is pretty cool.”
Sweepers are rowers with only one oar, while scullers have oars in each hand. Sculling allows for easier synchronization between rowers because each person has an oar on each side, making it easier to match up oars with other teammates.
While Boyer is excited about sculling, incoming freshman rower Sam Sederstrand is excited to simply start her journey with Temple rowing.
“A brand new era is taking over for Temple rowing,” Sederstrand said. “For the new boats, I think it just shows that our program is growing, and it’s great to see.”
Sederstrand is one of nine incoming freshmen joining a team that graduated only six seniors last year. Gryzbowski is excited about what the largest recruiting class in the history of the program has to offer.
“Five of [the graduates] were in our top boat,” Gryzbowski said. “It’s definitely gonna be a challenge, but we have a lot of young people which opens up a lot of opportunity. It will definitely fuel competition, and we have a great recruiting class of freshmen that are hungry and ready to work.”
Along with the rest of Temple athletics, women’s rowing will join the American Athletic Conference this season. Barber is excited for what that change holds for the upcoming season.
“I know some of the teams we’re gonna be competing against are bigger crews that have a lot of fancy equipment, which we’re getting now too,” Barber said. “Also, some of my friends are from the other schools, so I’m gonna be rowing against them in the conference championships, which is exciting.”
Their season begins Oct. 12 on the Schuylkill River, where the Owls will participate in the Navy Day Regatta, a rowing event that encompasses over 50 races and dozens of teams, including all the Big 5 teams.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.