Established in 2005, The Colorado State University Crew Team practices in the early morning from the Inlet Bay Marina at Horsetooth Reservoir. With about two major Regatta’s a semester, the team practices four days a week. The 20 members on the coed team worked hard to represent CSU this fall season. The mission: “to provide a fun and competitive rowing experience to novice and experienced rowers at Colorado State University. We emphasize team bonding and leadership in order to create a more cohesive team and provide opportunities for growth to both the team and each of our rowers,” demonstrates the team’s work ethic and passion for inclusion. It was humbling for me to wake up hours before dawn and observe this group of students train while the rest of Fort Collins slept. This story follows the team’s journey practicing on open water. During the winter season, with low water levels and frozen fingers, the team conditions on indoor erg rowing machines. The following photos were taken between September and early November when the reservoir was safe to row on.

Students at a lake

The Hill

Members head to the dock during a Saturday practice. On weekdays, practice begins at 5:00 a.m. “We walk down this hill in the dark!… If you’ve been on the team long enough, you’ve definitely fallen down that hill,” said treasurer and varsity rower Megan Daly.

Crew at dock

Colostate Crew

The CSU Crew team shares the dock with the Fort Collins Rowing Association. The team owns three 8-person boats. They also borrow a quad and a single from the FCRA.

Crew out on lake

Women’s Novice 8

The Women’s Novice 8 practices taking their first strokes as a crew. Rowing half of the boat at a time helps keep the boat set for the other rowers. This way, they can practice stroking techniques.

Crew members carrying boat

“Up and Over Heads!”

Mia Twinam and Claire Wilson walk the boat to the racks after a hot practice. Twinam and Wilson both joined the team at the same time, becoming close friends through their shared experience.

Crew member carrying boat at night

Years of Experience

Pieter Van Leeuwen is in his first semester at CSU, but has plenty of rowing experience behind him. He started in 8th grade in Littleton, Colorado. “This lady on the beach was like ‘why is there a child on the adult boat?!'” He later joined the youth boat league and rowed during all four years of high school. “I used to medal as a kid because no one’s like 6’5.”

Crew member carrying boat

Down to Shoulders

Sean Arnold, a junior geography major, helps place the boat on the rack. There are different commands the coxswain will say to help the team rack and rerack the boat:

  1. Hands-on
  2. Up and overheads
  3. Down to shoulders
  4. Down to waist
  5. One arm over
  6. Starting with bow go under
  7. Lift
  8. Onto racks
Student crew members lifting boat above their heads

Racking

This semester is Claire’s fourth season on the team. She is in charge of travel and safety. It is her duty to make sure the team is safe on and off the water. “Horsetooth acts like this wind tunnel, so the water can be really calm inside the inlet and then you’ll get whitecaps out on the reservoir. You can row, but you feel like a Viking. You can row through it, but you’ll get a good four inches of water at the bottom of the boat.”

Crew out on the lake at night

“Where is My Team?”

The Rocky Mountain Rowdown Scrimmage took place in Boulder. Rowing teams from across Colorado race to see where they stand against one another. CSU Crew does not own a trailer that can transport their boats, so they rely on the home team to provide boats to race in. This adds adversity at times because they are not always given the best boats.

Crew carrying boat on the dock

Boulder Boat

Megan Daly brings oars to the Men’s Novice 4 before launching for the race. The team must be quick to launch off the dock to maintain order and flow in the competition. It was sweet seeing so many parents and friends come out to support their rowers despite the cold.

Crew boat out on lake

Commitment

Amanda Potter coxes the Mixed 4 as they warm up for their race. Amanda commutes to practice and school every morning from Denver. The journey takes about an hour without traffic. When I found this out, any complaints I had about waking up early vanished.

Crew carrying boat on shoulders

Cold Shoulders

Despite a chilly 40-degree morning in Boulder, rowers must race in uniform. Getting backsplashed with cold water does not help. Meanwhile, I stayed warm by wearing three jackets and two pairs of pants.

Kassandra Krohn carrying boat

Kassandra

Kassandra Krohn is a junior majoring in environmental engineering. She grew up in Seattle, Washington, and was used to seeing people row on the river during high school. “Sophomore year came and Katie and I were just bored and wanted something to do. We tried rugby for a couple days and then joined the crew team!”

Crew practicing out on the lack

Final Strokes

Women’s Varsity came in with top times against CU Boulder and the University of Denver. “When I can’t do it for myself, I do it for someone else,” said Mary Ellendorf, motivating newer team members.

Claire Wilson picks up Mia Twinam before the post regatta breakfast

Post-Race

Claire Wilson picks up Mia Twinam before the post regatta breakfast. Both joined crew at the same time and Mia is the current Vice President of the team. This was Mia’s first time coxing during a race and the microphone on her boat was not working. “I had to yell really loud but its alright, we made it through. Coxing is much better than I initially thought… it definitely takes a learning curve.” Mia learned to cox with the varsity men’s boat last semester. “They had all done it for years so that was super helpful… they were willing to critique me as I was coxing them. I definitely think I’ve done a significantly better job this semester. I still have lots to learn, but I felt confident in the calls.”

The lake at night

Boats in the Night

The majority of practice is held in the dark. The white line of light on the right of this photo shows the trail of a team boat. Meanwhile, the other half of the team keeps warm on the dock by doing dynamic exercises. Practice is split in half because only a few boats can go out at a time. The scene is tranquil with the trailing voice of the coxwain commanding the boat. “Sometimes we just lay on the dock and look at the stars,” said Megan Daly.

To view the full photo story, visit https://www.chiaragarland.com/csu-crew

More information about the Colorado State crew team can be found here:

https://csurec.colostate.edu/programs/sport-clubs/csu-sport-clubs/crew/