Women's rowing finishes second in prestigious event
All season long, the Grand Valley State University women’s club rowing team had its sights set on a single race—the Henley Regatta.
Every three years, GVSU has the opportunity to travel overseas to England for the event, which attracts some of the top teams in the world.
“It’s such a unique experience, it’s really unlike any other events on the schedule,” senior coxswain Kyle Barnhart said. “Having the opportunity to compete overseas really pushes us even harder.”
The Lakers opposed some of their best competition of the year in this season finale. Some of the universities and clubs they faced were the likes of the University of Oxford, Newcastle University, and powers from the U.S. such as Harvard University and Columbia University.
“It was a great feeling to be able to not only represent Grand Valley State University, but also the United States, as well,” Barnhart said. “This is really the only time we get to compete outside of the United States. It’s definitely an experience unlike any other.”
Unlike every other regatta that GVSU has competed in this year, the Henley Regatta was determined by “bracket style” competition, resulting in only two crews racing at a time instead of the usual six.
“It was definitely more intense than some other races we have been in, because you lose and you go home,” assistant women’s coach Kelsey Arnold said. “I think that also pushed us and helped us get to where we did at the Henley Regatta.”
GVSU navigated through the field of 32 qualifying crews to face the University of Oxford in the finals. Oxford got out to a quick start, and despite a continuous surge from the Lakers, it eventually pulled away to win the temple challenge cup.
“We knew that we were going to have our hands full with Oxford, and we had a set plan for what we were going to do,” Arnold said. “They got out to a fast start just like we thought they would. We tailed them the entire race until eventually they pulled away in the last 100 meters or so.”
In the end, this was a big accomplishment from the Lakers as they not only brought notoriety back to the U.S., but also quickly made a name for themselves in foreign territory.
“It’s a great feeling to be known not in your own state or country, but in a foreign country,” Barnhart said. “The more we accomplish the more the Grand Valley name gets out, which isn’t just good for us, but for the entire program and university, as well.”
Having past experience competing in the Henley Regatta, Arnold knows just how important it was to capture the opportunity of competing overseas.
“I’ve competed here in the past and it’s unlike anything else,” she said. “You really can’t take advantage of this kind of opportunity because it only happens every so often.”
The GVSU men’s rowing teams will soon follow suit and compete in the Henley Regatta in early July.