Pioneer Varsity Women’s Crew Team Prepares For Spring Season


Rowing requires a lot of determination, especially in the case of the Pioneer Varsity Women’s crew team, that is striving to win back their title as champions at State Championships in Grand Rapids this year. The team goes through a vigorous winter training, which entails weight lifting, yoga, going on rowing machines [ergometers], and trying their hardest to make the 2:12 split time to make the spring cut. Split time is the amount of time it takes a person to row 500 meters, so a person with a 2:00 split time can row 2000 meters in just eight minutes.

    Pioneer senior, Helena Yambrick, who is a team captain, explained, “We hope to be strong as a team, and win as many medals as we possibly can. I would say especially States, Midwest, and CSSRA [Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association] are the biggest regattas of spring season.” As a team captain, Yambrick believes her most important roles are to “make sure everyone is having the best time possible while learning everything they can.” She explained that she loves being friends with everyone on the team, and tries her best to make sure their time is as good as hers was in her freshman, sophomore, and junior years.

   Most of the races in the spring are short, so being able to move quickly, and with precision is key to performing well. The difference between fall and spring races is that in the fall, rowers are racing against the clock, whereas in the spring, it is mostly against other boats, and whoever crosses the finish line first, wins. Spring races are usually 1500 meters to 2000 meters, compared to the fall races, which are usually 3000 to 5000 meters. Yambrick would describe a 2000 meter rowing piece (often called a 2k), as “Super fun and super stressful at the same time. The rowing is quick, and powerful, which is pretty difficult, but it’s all worth it to get medals at all the regattas. A 2k race might be the most intense workout someone might ever do.”

    Community junior, Molly Maloy, who is on the Pioneer Crew Team, explained that the hardest part of a 2k is “The mental challenge. When you’re 800 meters into a 2,000-meter piece and you’re already exhausted and ready to be done but you actually have to pick up the intensity.” Maloy also described how she gets through such a tough piece, “I try to just think about going as hard as I can on the single stroke that I’m in. When I get too tired, and that fails, I think about going harder so it will be over sooner.”

    In the interview, Maloy also revealed how the team’s goal setting for 2,000-meter pieces worked. “We do a goal setting piece. We do 1,600 meters, 1,200 meters, 800 meters, and then 400 meters, and the average of how fast we went on those is our goal to beat on our 2k.”

    When it comes to preparing for the spring season, Maloy said that she believed the part that prepared the team the most “Is the last month, where we erg five days a week and also weight lift twice a week. That kind of repetitive motion really gets us not only physically ready to race but also excited to get on the water.”

    The Pioneer Varsity Women’s Crew Team is looking forward to racing this spring season, and hopefully bringing home some medals.