May 24, 2023

Coming Off Inspiring Win at Ivy Championships, PU Women’s Open Crew Primed for NCAA Regatta

ALL HANDS ON DECK: The Princeton University women’s open crew team celebrates after it placed first overall at the Ivy League Championships earlier this month on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will go for another title this week when they compete in the NCAA Rowing Championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken from May 26-28. (Photo by Ed Hewitt/Row2k, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

The last time the Princeton University women’s open crew team competed on the Cooper River course in Pennsauken, things went pretty well.

Rowing in the 2022 Ivy League Championships, Princeton placed first as the varsity 8 held off Brown to give the Tigers the league title.

This week, the Tigers are heading back to Cooper River looking for another championship as they take part in the NCAA Rowing Championships from May 26-28.

The competition includes the varsity 8, second varsity 8, and varsity 4 with 22 teams making up the field. Princeton open head coach Lori Dauphiny believes competing in a local venue should help her squad.

“I do think it is a plus, I like being close to home, it is our home state,” said Dauphiny, who guided the Tigers to third place in the team standings at the 2022 NCAA regatta as the varsity 4 took first and varsity eight placed third. “My expectation is that we will be ready and we will give it our all. I don’t know what will happen. It is always a hard question because there is some crossover but there are a lot of teams we haven’t seen. In our heat we have Washington and we haven’t seen Washington. We have no crossover with them.”

Late in the regular season, Princeton excelled in a key crossover clash as the Tiger varsity 8 edged then-No. 1 Texas along with No. 3 Yale.

“It was a big test and it was really fun to rise to the occasion and every boat did, which was also fantastic,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the April 22 regatta which saw the Tigers snap Texas’ 22-race winning streak. “It wasn’t just the varsity 8, it was the 2V and the 4. They all performed at an amazing level as well. It was definitely a confidence boost even through it was really tight and close. We came out in the right side in the varsity 8 and the 2V was within a 10th of a second of Texas.”

The Tigers got another boost in the Ivy regatta at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., on May 14 as a win by the varsity 8 in its grand final helped the Tigers take the team title. Princeton scored 85 points, edging runner-up Yale by one point. Penn was third with 66 points while Brown was fourth with 64.

“We were nervous going into it; there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement because of the fact that it really was a historic event, having both men’s and women’s teams there,” said Dauphiny. “It was a crazy race schedule.”

In the view of Dauphiny, the Princeton rowers fed off of each other at the competition.

“It was amazing; our boathouse is close because we all train at the same time,” said Dauphiny. “Everyone was on a roll. We were pushing each other, there was a lot of energy coming out of the boathouse heading to this trip to fight for the Ivy title for all three teams.”

The undefeated Tiger varsity 8 is on a roll, ranked No. 1 and seeded first in the NCAA competition.

“It is a special boat for sure but there is more work to be done,” said Dauphiny. “I don’t think we are ever confident that we have it down. I would say that the boat is coming together. They made great strides throughout the year and in our racing overall. We are still working on consistency but that is improving.”

With the 2V seeded second at the NCAA regatta and the 4 slotted at fifth, Dauphiny believes those boats can put in some good work this weekend.

“There have been some lineup changes which is challenging for them,” said Dauphiny. “I think both boats are rallying and excited and eager to get out on the race course. We haven’t set the lineups in all of our boats. I don’t think there will be big changes. It is the same
personnel, just different seats.”

As the Tigers put in their final preparations this week, the focus is on fine-tuning things.

“It is jelling as a boat and being consistent; I think all three boats are looking to repeat things,” said Dauphiny. “We have gotten better in our racing and we have worked on different strategies. We are getting fitter and now I think we just have to be able to repeat that.”

Dauphiny is proud of how her rowers have jelled over the spring.

“There is something magical about this team in general, I have to say, in their spirit and ability to rally around each other and to produce speed in their boats,” said Dauphiny, crediting her assistant coaches, Steve Hope and Anna Kalfaian, with playing key roles in the team’s success.

“It was one of our more challenging fall seasons, I would have said that yes this group is stronger than that and they will get better and they did. But I don’t know if I would have given them enough credit for coming together as a team and as teammates.”