Greg Hughes has been fine-tuning the training approach for his Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowers this spring.
“I would say there is a change in intensity, not volume,” said fourth-year head coach Hughes.
“There is more hard work, it has had a positive effect on confidence. They have seen how much they can gain from that.”
As the Tigers prepared to compete in the Eastern Sprints last weekend, they showed some good intensity.
“We had some really great work,” said Hughes. “We made a couple of changes to combination which were beneficial. We changed the race plan which also helped.”
The Princeton first varsity 8 raced well in its opening heat at the Sprints, clocking a time of 6:05.776 on the 2,000-meter course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. to take second to Brown and qualify for the Grand Final.
“You always go to sprints looking to do well in the heats because it is one-off,” said Hughes.
“The sprint heats have provided some of the greatest races in rowing.
There is a lot of parity in the boats this year. There are 10 boats with the speed to make the finals and there are only six spots. We handled things well in the heat. We showed great intensity and focus. When you make changes, they don’t always stick on race day as the competitive juices take over.”
In the final, Princeton was competitive but ended up falling off the pace to take fourth in a race won by Harvard.
“We were in lane six and we were separated from lanes one-two-three where the racing was taking place,” said Hughes, whose team posted a time of 6:08.917, more than 12 seconds behind the Crimson.
“The train took off and we missed it. It was hard to pick up from there. We had good speed. We raced better.”
With the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif., Hughes believes his top boat is primed to race even better.
“We are looking forward to the IRAs,” said Hughes. “I like the attitude of the guys; they are all excited. We could have done better in the final but they have another chance.”
The Tiger second varsity 8 will be looking for a second chance at Brown after Princeton placed second to the Bears at the Sprints, suffering its first loss of the season.
“That was an awesome race,” asserted Hughes, whose 2V clocked a time of 6:09.690 to take second, nearly three seconds behind Brown.
“We had a race like that with Brown two weeks ago and we came out on top. This time, Brown came out on top. Princeton and Brown are two really fast boats and we are excited to get another chance to race against them. From my standpoint, I am bummed for them, I wanted to see them get the finish they wanted. They have had a really great season, I am really proud of them. They have a great attitude and they have been a great addition to the boathouse, they have fun with what they are doing.”
Princeton did earn gold in the fourth varsity race, beating runner-up Harvard by more than three seconds.
“The 4V had couple of seniors mixed in with some youngsters; it great to see those seniors end their rowing careers with a win,” said Hughes.
“One of our few walk-on novices [Doug Guyett] was on that boat, it was great to see how he progressed.”
In Hughes’ view, the progress he has seen from his rowers has resulted, in part, from a coaching group effort.
“A big part of this is the staff and the coaches that we have,” asserted Hughes.
“With the new freshman rule [which allows freshmen to compete on varsity boats], we have changed the way we split things up. Spencer Washburn was really a co-head coach. He gets a lion’s share of credit for the 2V. Our interns, Ian Silveira and Rob Munn, worked with 3V and 4V. What it shows is that it is great to have a staff. You need to bounce ideas off of each other.”
As Princeton gets ready for the IRAs, it won’t be changing its focus on hard work.
“We don’t have a lot of time; we’ll be flying out on Friday,” said Hughes.
“We will be doing a lot of the work that we have been doing. We are not doing anything fancy but we are on the right track. We just need slightly better execution.”