Crew team makes big splash at country’s largest collegiate regatta
By Morgan Strum ’19
The Lafayette men’s and women’s crew team excelled at the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia May 11. The team came home with a gold medal for the women’s novice four boat, a silver medal for the varsity women’s four boat, and a bronze medal for the varsity men’s four boat. The women’s novice four boat is now the two-time defending Dad Vail champion.
In finals for both the men’s and women’s varsity four boats, Lafayette was the only club team.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” says head coach Rick Kelliher. “We were the only club team, and we’re rowing against scholarship programs and athletes that get paid to row. It’s pretty cool that those athletes can go and do that.”
While Dad Vail, the largest collegiate regatta in the country, is open to both varsity and club teams, according to Kelliher, it is now attended by mostly varsity teams. Although the Lafayette crew team is a club team, Kelliher says the athletes “take it just as seriously as if they were scholarship or DI athletes.”
“They put in three hours a day, six days a week from September all the way up to May,” Kelliher says. “They travel during their spring break, they row twice a day, so it’s a club team, but the training mentality is that we are not a club team.”
Libby Mayer ’22 was in the women’s novice four boat along with Haley Simpson ’22, Elizabeth Good ’22, Sherry Deng ’22, and Erika Nally ’22. Mayer says the Dad Vail was a “highly anticipated” regatta.
“Dad Vail is a buzzword that we heard from the minute we were on the team, even back in the fall when we had no idea how to row. There was so much energy around it,” she says.
Mayer says that after her boat’s final race, the “biggest moment” was seeing how excited the rest of the team was about its medal.
“When we crossed the finish line and rode to the medal dock, we saw our whole team there cheering for us,” Mayer says. “I don’t think any of us realized how big of a deal it was that we had won until that moment.”
Kelliher says the team’s success at the Dad Vail would “not have been possible” without the help of Derek Richmond, in his third year as assistant coach.
“He is doing an excellent job in recruiting as well as assisting,” Kelliher says.
Dad Vail marks the end of the team’s medal-winning season. At the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference Championship Regatta, six of the team’s boats earned gold medals, and one boat earned a silver. Four boats earned gold medals at the Kerr Cup Regatta, and men’s varsity 4+ boat earned gold at the Knecht Cup Regatta. Women’s varsity 4+ boat earned silver, and both women’s novice 4+ and men’s JV 4+ earned bronze medals at the Knecht Cup Regatta.
“This whole season we just came together really well as a team and as individual boats,” Zoe Bremier ’19 says. “Everyone worked really hard.”
Although the team’s spring season is over, team members Euan Walker ’21, Oliver Finlay ’22, and Ethan Ames ’22 will travel to Gainesville, Ga., on May 24 to compete at the club national championships, Kelliher says.
Navy Day Regatta in Philadelphia will be the team’s first regatta of the fall season Oct. 13. Head of the Charles Regatta, one of the biggest regattas of the year, will follow Oct. 20.