Beginning his fourth year on the team, Captain Henry Brown prepares himself and the Western Washington University crew team for a hard hitting, fast-paced year of rowing. With early morning workouts, countless hours on the water and lots of pasta, WWU crew members are working hard and pushing themselves to be a tight knit team with immense power.
The Western Front sat down with Brown to talk about all things Western crew.
Q: How long have you been rowing crew?
A: I started rowing my freshmen year. No high school experience other than a dinky little summer camp, where I rowed for a week or two. Then I’ve been rowing consistently since the first day of freshmen year.
Q: What got you interested in crew?
A: I had a lot of friends who rowed in high school. But concurrent with that, I was into cross-country, track and field and was a rock climber. I was very active and would work out with my friends and they told me “Henry, you’ve got a good body for [rowing] and the basic fitness, go try it out. The worst that will happen is you will get a killer workout and decide you don’t make it.” So I gave it a shot at the info fair and talked with the current captain, Joe Gregersen, got the info, showed up and never really left.
Q: What does a typical workout look like?
A: Crew is unique in that it has to have a blend of cardio and strength. A lot of aerobic fitness mixed with raw power. A typical practice is broken up depending on what season it is, along with the day of the week. Whether we are doing 5Ks in the fall or 2Ks in the spring, so long versus short, Mondays will be our longer day. We will do what we call “steady state,” which equals 10,000 meters on the ergometer. Tuesdays and Thursdays we have a lifting program developed by Will Ruth, who is a recent kinesiology graduate and rower. Wednesdays are technically our tough days and those are more interval pieces. Fridays are basic cardio, usually spin bike or a light jog, because we have practice on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Morning workouts start at 5 a.m. and go until 7 a.m. out on the water.
Q: What is a crew team like?
A: Crew, in and of itself, is arguably the most team based sport there is. A good way to describe it for non-rowers is: imagine having eight dudes on a driving range, you have eight golf clubs and you are all swinging together. But you all have to hit a golf ball at the exact same moment, with the same amount of force and then repeat that 30-40 times a minute. So you have to have, not only a personal drive to excel, but an implicit trust in your teammates and to know that the guy in front and behind you are pulling and working hard. If you have the mental attitude that my teammates are working hard so we as a group can excel, you set a higher bar for yourself. You’ll push yourself harder than you ever thought you could because of that team dynamic.
Q: As captain, what are your personal goals this year?
A: Physically, I want to get faster. I want to set a personal record for myself in regard to 2K times. When I approached crew, I realized that there was a lot gained from your teammates, in terms of mental and emotional growth. I try to use crew as an avenue to mold myself into a better person. Over the last couple years, I have looked at past leadership and past captains. I’ve really tried to look at what they embodied that I admired and I’m doing my best to embody that myself. I want to be able to embody what people want to exemplify.
Men inspire with words and leaders inspire with actions.