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Rowers will have more speed at Big Ten championships

BY NICK GANS | APRIL 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa rowing team has business to take care of before preparing for finals.

After finishing fifth in the Big Ten championships last year, the Hawkeyes have a renewed focus on the need for speed.

Racing for the first time since April 10, Iowa plans to implement new techniques that might help give the team a better chance for attaining success during the conference title meet on Saturday on Lake Ovid, near East Lansing, Mich.

While not in a competitive setting for three weeks, the Hawkeyes have used time at practice to their advantage, seeking to lengthen their rowing stroke, which will give the team a better feel for the water and an increase in speed.

“The longer your paddle in the water, the more chance you have for speed,” assistant coach Carrie Callen said. “We’re excited about our new improvements, and the team is looking forward to trying them out at a highly competitive meet.”

The change in technique is not the only variation for Iowa. Lineups have also been secured.

“Since our last meet [against Minnesota and Wisconsin], we have our lineups pretty much set and are in much better positions with a lot more speed on all of our boats,” Callen said.

The team will row in two varsity 8s, one novice 8, and two varsity 4s on Michigan State’s course.

The Hawkeyes are seeded fifth in the first and second Varsity 8 heats and are the No. 6 seeds in both varsity 4 and novice 8 race.

The Hawkeyes’ goal has remained the same — to compete in the NCAA championships on May 29, senior coxswain and team captain Sheila Rinozzi said. However, Iowa needs to finish in the top two of its heats for a chance at the Big Ten championship in the grand finale.

Before then, though, the Hawkeyes will likely deal with troublesome weather.

With 16 mph wind and a chance of rain, the 2,000-meter stretch at Lake Ovid could provide less than ideal conditions. But Callen said the unforgiving weather could also give Iowa an edge.

“This won’t be our first race in rough water,” Callen said. “We have to deal with rough weather all the time when we practice out at the [Coralville Reservoir]. I feel better prepared for this meet’s windy conditions than in the past with our experience in bad weather this year.”

The unpredictability of Midwestern weather is something head coach Mandi Kowal has also dealt with before.

“From Texas all the way up to Canada, there are windy conditions this weekend,” said Kowal, a two-time world champion rower. “Wind is always a challenge in an outdoors sport like rowing, and this lake is more open and maybe windier than normal.”

Despite the tough terrain, Callen said she hoped all the hard work in practice will pay off.

“We’ve been wanting to see how our new speed can compete against other teams, and we’ll need to see how well we race against good rowing schools that the Big Ten offers,” she said.

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