NSR1 is upon us, and with it come the first opportunities for USA rowers to qualify themselves for spots on the 2012 Olympic Team. The Training Center has come alive with athletes from all over the country who have arrived to race in the W2-, M2-, M1X and LM2- events over the next three days, and it’s a very exciting night for everyone as racing kicks off tomorrow morning with time trials for all events. Race weekends are always a fun time for me–regardless of whether or not I’m racing–since it is cause for people to come together, making for a lot of smiles, hugs and reunions with people that I’ve known or have been rowing with for years but don’t get to see often.
For the first time during my career, USRowing is going to run a selection regatta here at the Olympic Training Center. This means having to make modifications to the lake, including dropping 7 [straight] lanes of buoys, a finish tower, and starting docks. All athletes, even those of us who have been training on the lake daily for the last three months, will be unfamiliar with the racing/traffic procedures which I’m sure will keep the officials on the lake very busy, at least for the first day. Despite not racing this weekend, I can’t help but feel a little sentimental about racing taking place away from our home course at Mercer Lake. For as many complaints as we have about that place when it comes time to race, they are familiars. What unforeseen challenges lie ahead for racing on Otay I can’t be sure beyond the known issues of reeds and plant debris that have a habit of adhering themselves to racing boat fins, and the impending storm on Saturday…but I think everyone here is up for the challenge and possess the necessary skills for dealing with the unpredictable monkey wrenches that sometimes get thrown in to rowing races. And no matter what happens this weekend, I anticipate some excellent racing, especially in the W2- group.
For those unfamiliar with selection procedures for the Olympic Team, this regatta is an important first step for individuals who are looking to race either big or small boats for the USA this summer in London. In the case of small boat events, athletes who win their events this weekend (excluding LM2-) have the opportunity to then race their event at the World Cup(s) later this spring. In the event that they finish in the top four at one of those World Cups, they are then able to receive nomination to the US Olympic Team in that event. In the case of big boats, this regatta serves as a good selection measure for USRowing coaching staff, and finish position in the 2- events (top 4 for 8+s, top 2 for LM4-) can translate in to invitations for the big boat selection camps. So regardless of your ultimate goals–big boat or small boat–achieving a good result this weekend is important for taking the next step in selection to the Team.
It’s impossible not to notice the buzz around the boathouse now that it’s time to start racing. But this year I have slightly mixed feelings about NSR1 seeing as how it’s the first time in three years that I won’t be racing. Without the USA having qualified the W1X at last year’s World Championships, that event has been removed from the NSR1 program and moved to the Non-Qualified Olympic Trial event in April (along with W2X, M2X & LM2X)–leaving myself and the rest of the female sculling athletes without an event to race this weekend. We are not without our own work to do in the meantime–but still, not tuning up my single for racing while the pairs all gear up for their first selection of the year seems strange, especially since NSR1 usually spells at least four races for the singles, and often a slightly underwhelming time trial/final event for the pairs. This year is different all around with no singles at all and a full race menu for the pairs (time trial, heats, finals). In any case, I’m really looking forward to supporting my teammates over the course of the weekend and seeing how racing unfolds!

Good luck to all the athletes racing this weekend–go fast!

Long Live the Dream,