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Student-Athlete Summer Blog: Kasey Colander #1

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Hello! My name is Kasey Colander and I row on the GW men's rowing team. I was selected last month to come to Boston for the World University Games (WUG) selection camp for a shot to represent the USA abroad this summer.

Just for a little background, the World University Games are held every two years and host all the Olympic sports for the best university athletes from each county. It's kind of like the Olympics for university students. This year they are being held in Kazan, Russia, and the United States is sending around 500 athletes to compete in everything from badminton to wrestling. They have an athlete village constructed to house all of the athletes where each country will be living in a tower. There are communal dining halls in the village where all the countries can enjoy their meals together. 

Here is a YouTube video that shows the buildings and event areas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBJIWP66ClU

OK, back to Boston. I arrived here on June 4th right after competing with GW at the IRA National Championships in Sacramento, Calif. The original plan was to whittle down a group of 23 athletes to the fastest eight to travel to Russia in July. But, due to a couple different reasons (sickness, injury, lack of mental determination) we were left with a group of 12 guys that we had to select eight rowers and one coxswain from. 

Selection took a while as we had to do seat races by switching people in and out of the boat and then measuring its speed over a set distance, usually about a mile. That means that you have to do 11 miles before you have a sense of comparative speed. That is tiring enough in itself, but because we are full-time athletes right now and don't have any other responsibilities, we row for what seems like forever up and down and back up the Charles River. It's a beautiful city, but the fourth time going through the same bridge makes it not quite as pleasant as you might imagine. 

We usually end up rowing somewhere around 50km (~30miles) on the water each day. On top of that, we also have a daily run and weight circuit and we usually end the day with an extra hour of cardio on the indoor rowing machine (erg) for good measure. Needless to say, we don't do much else other than row. When we get home we focus most of our remaining energy on eating and sleeping, often trying to combine the two but usually failing and waking up with a lot of crumbs in the bed. 

Here are a couple of pictures of our practices on the water, usually the calm water pictures are from the morning rows and the rougher water is in the afternoon.

Practice 1.jpg

Practice 2.jpg

Good news! At least for me anyway. After two grueling weeks of high volume training, the coaches have finally made cuts for the team which leaves us with our selected roster that will travel and compete in Kazan in July. The official roster was published in a press release from USRowing and was also covered on GWsports.com.

Now that we have selected the eight rowers and the coxswain that will be travelling to Russia, we are able to have even more grueling practices where we have to learn how to respond as a crew especially when we're exhausted, which sounds much easier than it is. But with the more focused work comes the rewards. Right after the official selection we received some of the Team USA gear that we will wear while we're competing. There was a lot of it; we got Team USA shirts, polos, shorts, pants, a jacket, hat, towels and a USA bag. Here is a picture of some of the gear we received.

US Swag.jpg

Although we don't do much besides rowing, we have been able to have a little bit of fun off the water too. The boathouse we row out of is one of the nicest in the country and over 1,000 people row out of it every day! With that many people we often see a lot of other groups training as well. One day, we were doing our fourth cardio workout when a group of middle school students from inner-city public schools came in for their end-of-the-year gym field trip. They had been erging all winter with the promise that they would be able to try rowing on the water at the end of the year if they kept up their grades. They came to the boathouse and we decided that we would join them for a short erg relay before they went out on the water. We broke up into teams, pairing each rower from our boat with five middle school students. Our team came in second by a tenth of a second, but it was still a lot of fun to see the excitement from the students. They all seemed to think we were the best thing since sliced bread, and we spent more time taking pictures with them than we did actually erging. It was a lot of fun and their teachers were very appreciative. It made us feel pretty special too.

Rowing with kids.jpg

We will continue training here in Boston until Thursday when we will travel down to Lake Mercer in New Jersey for the Elite National Championships. There, we will race the Olympic eight that finished fourth in the London Olympics. And then we will continue to train in New Jersey for two days before we fly over to Russia on July 1st.

Thank you for all the support and I'll try to keep you updated as I continue this exciting summer!

Raise High,

Kasey

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