Just a short drive from Grounds, the Rivanna Reservoir hosts one of Virginia’s most remarkable teams. Through foggy mornings and windy afternoons, Virginia women’s rowing trains from the impressive hilltop boathouse on the Rivanna, only leaving for strenuous land workouts on the rowing machines at Slaughter Recreation Center. The team’s accomplishments and contributions to the athletics department deserve recognition despite distance from Grounds and a lack of knowledge about rowing.
Success in rowing is dictated by how specific lineups of eight or four rowers can coordinate with each other to move their boat as fast as possible. These eight or four rowers are led by a coxswain who takes command of each practice or race and steers the boat down a proper course. Unity in each lineup is crucial to team performance as rowers must prioritize the goals and accomplishments of the unit over individual feats. A single rower’s outstanding endurance means nothing if they are not working in tandem with others.
While the individual success of athletes remains important in the winter season and during grueling indoor workouts, the idea of individuality fades when in a race, eight rowers work together to execute the exact same components of the stroke at the exact same time. This single stroke can be broken down into seemingly infinite parts, all of which are perfected to the point where rowers take each stroke in less than two seconds on race.
Virginia women’s rowing has demonstrated mastery of the form, as they have just secured their 13th-straight team ACC Championship over the weekend. On behalf of their performances at each ACC Championship regatta, Virginia women’s rowing has become one of the most decorated teams at Virginia.
This win was built on the performance of every boat on the team, as the Cavaliers placed first in four out of the five grand finals, demonstrating top to bottom dominance. Senior rowers Leia Till and Larkin Brown, senior coxswain Vivi Van Ingen and graduate student coxswain Janet Conklin all earned places on the All-ACC Rowing First Team following the championship win. Senior rower Tahne Badenhorst claimed a spot on the Second Team.
Behind this most recent team accolade is a long history of successes that warrant recognition from the Virginia community. Aside from their now 13-year winning streak, Virginia women’s rowing has taken first place in 21 of the 22 total ACC Championship regattas since the championships were established in 2000. This is an unheard of .955 championship winning percentage. Clemson is a distant second with just one conference title. No other team has claimed the conference title thus far.
Additionally, head coach Kevin Sauer has been awarded the ACC Coach of the Year title 14 times in his 28 seasons as coach. Given the team’s unparalleled successes in his tenure, Sauer recruits and builds rowers that maintain an extraordinary sense of heart and respect for every boat. Under Sauer, Virginia has developed a culture and team identity that prioritizes team success as a whole, despite intense internal competition to determine lineups.
These student-athletes have ceaselessly trained through finals and remained on Grounds
beyond in preparation for their final regatta — the NCAA Championship in New Jersey late May. The NCAA Championship is the premier regatta in women's collegiate rowing, and Virginia’s spot has been well-earned by their win at the ACC Championship. Beginning May 26th, all students should tune in to support the Cavaliers as they race among the biggest powerhouses in the sport.
Virginia Women’s Rowing has certainly been recognized by those in the rowing world, but it is time for the greater university community to support the achievements of this exceptional group of athletes. After all, they have contributed tremendously to the overall reputation of Virginia Athletics, at a sport that offers a unique experience for athletes and fans alike.