March 6, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- This weekend, the University of Michigan rowing team will compete in its final exhibition race (Saturday, March 8) before the start of the spring season. Michigan takes on the University of Miami (Fla.) for the fifth straight year during spring break, concluding a week of training on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, Fla. Last year, Michigan boats claimed victories in each of the flights against Miami, sweeping all four pieces in each flight. U-M head coach Mark Rothstein offered a preview of racing on Saturday and thoughts on the upcoming spring season.
This is the team's second trip down to Florida over the last three weeks. How nice is it to get down to Florida when the weather has been so bad up in Michigan?
MR: Yeah I think particularly with this winter as cold as it's been, you kind of hope you'll get out on the water up in Michigan, but we may not get out until right before our first race, if then. Getting the water time out here and making the most of it is really important. Here in Tampa, we train on the Hillsborough River, and the river opens up into a channel, so it's about 3,000 meters long. It's pretty wide and straight, so that's most likely where we'll do the racing pieces on Saturday."
What kind of challenge does Miami (Fla.) offer and what are you looking for out of your team on Saturday?
MR: We're looking forward to racing. I think Miami is a really good program. That have a good coach and I'm sure that they're going to continue to develop like they have been. It will be a good opportunity for us to race against a quality program.
What has the team's schedule been like this week and talk about some of the things the team has done off the water?
MR: Most days we've been rowing in the mornings and the afternoons. Pretty much off the water has been eat and sleep. I think the kids are pretty tired from the training so they're trying to get as much down time as they can in between.
What will the racing format be on Saturday?
MR: The format will be dependent on the weather, but similar to last year (four races at 1,000 meters, three flights racing eights, fours, and novice at varied stroke rates). Distance may vary, but I'd like to go a little longer than last year if we can. It just depends on the weather. Since it's a public waterway, sometimes on a nice day there's a lot of boat traffic that we have to avoid, so it just depends on the situation.
With the first in-season race scheduled in three weeks (March 29) against defending national champion Ohio State and Indiana, does this help focus the team heading into the last exhibition?
MR: I think we'll cross that bridge as we get to it, right now we're just focused on getting better and racing this weekend. I'm looking at the way we execute the technical things we've been working on this week, rowing with composure and with aggressiveness. Like all teams this time of year, we have a lot of improvements that we need to make.