At first glance, rowing does not seem difficult and you may wonder if there is any difference between rowing in the water and with the machine in a gym but you will soon find out it is a very challenging sport. Bronco men's rower Brent Michael Harvey (BMH) shares with the fans how he first came upon rowing and what is going on inside the crew members' mind when they row.
SCU: The Broncos men's crew team began its 2011-12 campaign strong, winning the Wine Country Classic held on the Petaluma River on Oct. 23. How did the team prepare for this tournament and what was the most important thing that contributed to this victory?
BMH: The victory at the Wine Country Classic was a very beneficial start to our season. With classes having started Sept. 19, the team only had one month to train and develop our rhythm for the season. The true testament comes from the team's training ethic over summer. We as a team view rowing as a year-round sport and constantly push ourselves to do better than before, keeping this diligence over the summer is essential in order to have a productive fall and spring season. It was the individual summer training and excellent coaching during the first month back that enabled us to push through our competition that day.
SCU: You were a varsity pole vaulter and cross country team member at your high school. Why did you choose to pursue rowing instead of other sports and when was the first time you rowed?
BMH: I was a varsity pole-vaulter and cross country team member in high school. I pursued a different sport at Santa Clara University for several reasons: I decided to run more for enjoyment rather than for competition and because Santa Clara doesn't have field events with the track team, I still wanted something to schedule my life around. I came across rowing during my orientation to our fine campus. I remember having a very informative discussion about the sport with our 2010-11 captain Wills Fallon, whom was an orientation leader at the time. Towards the end of my summer going into freshman year I decided to partake in a month long- development camp through the San Diego Rowing Club and the coaches at UCSD. The very first day of camp I knew that this was a sport for me, and I have been rowing ever since.
SCU: Can you describe the ideal place to row?
BMH: Personally speaking, anywhere that has calm water and open space is a wonderful place to row. My two favorite places to row would have to be Mission Bay in San Diego, and our very own Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos. We are truly blessed to be rowing at Lexington. The water typically remains calm for most practices and we usually get to see the sun peek over the hills and trees during practice. The fondest memory I have of rowing is from Lexington Reservoir. It was a cold and clear morning with a thin but dense layer of fog hovering just above the water. The sun had just come over the tree line on the hillside and the rays were sifting through the branches reaching the boats. I looked to my left and saw the rays piercing through the immense plumes of steam coming from our bodies. It was everything I enjoy about rowing rolled into one picture frame: hard work, the eerie serenity after a tough piece and the sheer beauty of the reservoir.
SCU: What is rowing like? Is it similar to the experience that you get when you use a rowing machine in a gym?
BMH: Rowing a very interesting sport; it can be utterly painful one minute, serene/relaxing the next, or both at the same moment. Using the ergometer, indoor rowing machine or "erg" for short, is a completely different animal. When one ergs, they push and pull their body across the slide generating force that is converted to a reading giving the average time it takes to go 500 meters (a race can be anywhere from 2k-5k meters). Erging is the only activity I have come across that gets harder to do the more you learn how to do it properly. On the water the blade of the oar stays locked in place from the pressure you exert through the oar onto the water, the boat moves under you as the energy is being released from the water at the end of the stroke causing the boat to 'run' through the water. The ergs are a great way to develop strength and a good VO2 max, but if someone wants to develop their rowing abilities, water practice is key.
SCU: Do you enjoy the scenery when you row? Can you hear the cheers from the fans?
BMH: To be entirely honest, most of us don't look around during a piece or race, we have to be entirely focused on following the guy in front of us to keep rhythm with our stroke seat. During a race, I only remember our starting sequence plus a few strokes. I typically don't remember anything else until the race is over. This tends to be the case for other rowers as well, muscle memory takes over and you remove your mind from the equation
SCU: What is the most important thing in rowing? Is it team chemistry or training that allows you to row faster?
BMH: Team chemistry and training are synonymous when it comes to rowing. You can have eight guys that pull fast times on the ergs, but if they don't work together and learn to follow each other, the boat will go nowhere. The fact that the team typically does everything together from eating, taking the same classes, living in the same house/dorm, practicing in groups and getting up at the same early time to practice strengthens us even more.
SCU: What is your own and team goals for this season? How would you like to achieve them?
BMH: My personal goal for the season is to pull as hard as I can wherever our coach puts me in the boat. Competitiveness is the key, and I consider every teammate as an opponent that I can compete against and learn from. As far as our team goals go, I won't go into much detail because I am very superstitious, but I will say that we are faster than previous years and we have large goals set and plan to impress at W.I.R.A.C. in the spring ... we want our trophy back! We will continue to achieve these goals through hard work, dedication, waking up early to fit in more training hours and by our being willing to push our bodies well beyond their limits to achieve greatness. I will end with a quote from David Goggins that summarizes our drive and determination for this program. "I want to see how far I can push myself. What makes me tick is that pain you feel.....I love knowing that everyone's suffering because I know I can suffer just a little bit more. I can take a lot of pain."
SCU: Any comments for the fans?
BMH: We very much appreciate your support. Check our schedule for dates of upcoming races nearby in Foster City and come cheer us on!