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WWU men’s rowing team setting sights on spring races

Club looks to maintain mid-season momentum following medal-winning 2022 season

Members of the 2022-23 Western Washington University men’s rowing team train on the calm water of Lake Whatcom in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 15, 2023. // Photo courtesy of WWU Men’s Rowing

The Western Washington University men’s rowing club is working toward its mid-season spring races, following a successful 2022 season that saw multiple national championship medals.

According to head coach and Western alumni Nick Jensen, expectations for this year’s athletes are high.

“This is my first year as the head coach,” Jensen said. “We have a good group of guys, the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”

Western sophomore Ryan Mueller is a member of the men’s rowing club varsity team.

“We have big goals coming up for the spring season,” Mueller said. “We want to do as well as we did last year. Everyone’s really focusing in.”

Many members of the varsity team hadn’t rowed prior to joining the club, including Mueller.

“Most of our guys that come in haven't rowed before, that was me last year,” Mueller said. “You get on the rowing machine on land, the coaches break down the stroke, then you start working out onto the boat.”

The schedule for the men’s rowing club includes six days a week of morning training.

“We get to practice at 4:50 a.m. and then we practice until 6:50 a.m., and that’s five days a week,” Mueller said. “Then on Saturday, we go from 6:50 a.m. to around 9:30 a.m.”

Samuel Bloom, a Western senior and member of the men’s rowing club varsity team, said workouts go beyond frequent morning training. 

“We also lift in the evenings twice a week,” he said. “There’s plenty of work to be done.”

The Western men’s rowing club often competes against varsity college programs, which have the ability to seek out new recruits at competitions.

“Varsity programs recruit and go to regattas,” Bloom said. “We do almost all of our recruitment at club fairs on campus and through our social media.”

Due to its club status, Western men’s rowing requires alumni donations as well as fundraising to secure their finances.

According to Jensen, one way the club secures funding is through its Rent-a-Rower program, which allows for community members to hire rowers for the purpose of manual labor. 

“Community members can pay us to do any odd jobs that they don’t want to do,” Jensen said. “Anything from demoing someone’s kitchen to moving dirt around.” 

Bloom said support from club alumni is valuable and the program is beneficial for both the community and the men’s rowing club.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community and giving the community an opportunity to support us,” he said.

The various forms of funding are critical to many aspects of the club, from updating their gear to flights for long-distance travel.

“It helps us purchase equipment, fund our travel and keep the team operating,” Bloom said.

One such travel expense is the flight to Tennessee for the yearly American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship, which the club hopes to medal in for the second consecutive year.

Wearing a travel uniform on the flight home from his team’s gold medal performance led to a fantastic memory for Mueller.

“When we took the plane back, I was talking with the guy next to me,” Mueller said. “And he was like ‘Oh, you’re rowing, how’d it go?’ and I pulled out my medal from my shirt and said ‘It went pretty well.’”

Mueller particularly enjoys how positive the club’s culture is, created through members’ immense passion. 

“That’s the big thing, the team atmosphere. It’s something I’ve never seen before,” he said. “Everyone loves what they’re doing.”

Theron Danielson

Theron Danielson (he/him) is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front this quarter. He is in his third year, majoring in journalism with a minor in film. His writing interests include sports, radio and student-led events. He enjoys musical theater, watching anime and yelling at the TV while watching sports. 

You can reach him at or on Instagram @therondanielson

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