Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 32
 
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
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INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE: Madeline Davis, center, shows her form in the stroke seat in a practice this spring for the Princeton University women’s lightweight crew. Last month, the recently graduated Davis competed for the U.S. in the U-23 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic. Davis and Lindsay McAlpine placed 12th in the lightweight double. In a few weeks, Davis will get the chance to pass on the lessons she learned from international competition as she starts a job as a crew coach at The Hun School.

Former PU Rower Davis Competes at U-23 Worlds, Will Pass on Lessons as Hun School Crew Coach

Bill Alden

It was the culmination of eight years of rowing for Madeline Davis.

After finishing her career with the Princeton University women’s lightweight program this June, Davis made the U.S. team in lightweight double for the U-23 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.

As she flew to Europe in late July, Davis was a bundle of emotions. “I was a little nervous, for sure, but mostly excited,” said Davis who was rowing in the double with Lindsay McAlpine, a former Brown standout. “It was the first international race for me, Lindsay, and our coach (Scott Wisniewski).”

The boat’s intense training at the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia gave Davis some confidence as she headed into international competition.

“We had some really good training sessions,” said Davis, a team captain and All-American during her career at Princeton who had previously rowed four years at Country Day School in West Chester, Pa. during high school.

“We made some good strides. We were doing pieces at Vesper; training against men’s lightweight single Steven Cutler, a rising sophomore at Princeton.”

Once in the Czech Republic, Davis and McAlpine got the chance to familiarize themselves with the course and further hone their sculling technique.

“We got there Sunday night and didn’t race until Thursday,” recalled Davis, who was staying with her teammates in a hotel in the countryside outside the village of Racice. “We practiced twice a day on the course; we got used to it and the landmarks.”

The pair got off to a landmark start, placing third in their opening heat to advance to the semifinals.

“I was really happy with that,” said Davis. “We were racing our race. We got out and then got some shots in. We didn’t want to go to reps; it’s probably our best race of the regatta.”

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there for Davis and McAlpine as they placed sixth in the semifinals and in the ‘B’ final, leaving them ranked 12th in the world.

“The conditions were windy the whole time, it was a ripping wind that went across the boat,” said Davis, noting that a storm hit Racice that blew some of the boats off their racks and severely damaged them.

“In the semis, we never found our rhythm; we just weren’t able to get going. The race started out well. We had been one of the slower boats off the line and we wanted to get a good start. We had a good 1,000 and then caught a crab with 750 yards left. It was very frustrating. We had ourselves in a good spot; we had gone through Iran and were coming up on Canada. The final result was not representative of how we were rowing.”

The experience in Racice opened Davis’ eyes to some of the realities of international competition.

“The lesson I learned is that you can do well collegiately and nationally but the international level is a whole new ballgame,” said Davis.

“It is really fast. In sculling, it is really difficult because the European rowers train year-round. It is a big step up for us.”

Davis will look to pass those lessons on as she will be coaching crew at the Hun School in the upcoming school year and working in the school’s Residential Life office.

“I am ready to try something new, I am not going to be training,” said Davis, who will be starting at Hun later this month. “I am going to give myself to coaching.”

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