The Tufts women’s crew team had its first outing on the Mystic River this past Sunday, Sept. 8. Tufts’ top women’s varsity eight finished fourth in the petite final last spring in the National Invitational Rowing Championship (NIRC). The team is now preparing for a fall campaign that includes several regional races as well as the storied Head of the Charles Regatta, one of the largest two-day regattas in the world, that has among its participants many international crews and some of the most elite rowers in the world
Sophomore Alicia Heia spoke about the team’s preparation for the fall season.
“The offseason was really good,” Heia said. “A lot of girls on the crew team made sure to stay in shape and took it upon themselves to get ready and maintain their fitness for the season. Some girls are rowing while they’re abroad, which is really cool, and I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position for the incoming season.”
Senior co-captain Madeleine Clarke expressed excitement for her last fall season as a Tufts rower after a summer offseason full of erging and cross-training preparing for September. A two-year co-captain of the program, Clarke joins senior Grace Fabrycky and junior Abby Henne as co-captain of the team this upcoming season.
Clarke said she’s grateful for her four years on the team.
“It’s a huge part of my Tufts career,” Clarke said. “My [Tufts] experience would not be the same without it.”
In her last season as a Tufts rower, Clarke emphasized that she was leaving the team in good hands, noting the potential that she sees in the Class of 2023.
“We have over 10 recruits, which is amazing,” Clarke said. “I’m so excited to see them out in the water, and I think they all seem super excited to get going.”
Heia also spoke about the new and returning members of the team, expressing how their contributions will help get the team to achieve its end-of-the-season goals.
“This season we have a really young team,” Heia said. “We have a lot of recruits, which is really exciting, and everything that we’re doing in the fall is to get ourselves ready for NCAAs this spring.”
The women’s team comes into this season with a change in leadership, as Noel Wanner replaces Brian Dawe as head coach. Wanner, the former head coach of the Tufts men’s crew team, is expected to bring in a more intense feel this year, according to Clarke.
“Things will definitely be looking different this year than they did last year,” Clarke said. “I think our training load will be increased a lot, but I think that the team is really excited to turn up the intensity of what we do.”
The women’s team will compete in three regattas over the course of the fall. The season opener at Green Mountain Head on Sept. 30 is the only race in the fall or spring seasons where the team focuses on sculling, a style of rowing in which the athletes race smaller boats using two blades instead of one.
At the Head of the Charles, the Jumbos’ midseason event and their biggest race of the fall, they are hoping to build on the success they found last year.
“At the Head of the Charles last year, we requalified both of our eights, which is a huge deal,” Clarke said. “That’s the first time since I’ve been here and the first time in a long time in Tufts women’s crew history that we have requalified both eights, which is very exciting.”
Having rowed for only a semester in high school, Clarke has worked her way up to the ranks of her team after starting out as a walk-on. Now at the beginning of the end of her college rowing career, she described the enthusiasm she feels about the races to come.
“The intensity needs to start now and continue all the way through the spring,” Clarke said. “There’s definitely a fire in everyone’s bellies for this year to be really successful.”