While most of the student body was sound asleep, members of the Texas rowing team were up early Saturday morning to compete in the Heart of Texas Regatta.
Head coach Dave O’Neill used this meet as an opportunity to give some of the younger rowers a chance to get some competition under their belt.
Texas’ rowing team has a wide variety of athletes in background, age and geography. Rowing is not the most common sport for those to participate in, and many athletes competing at Lady Bird Lake used this meet in order to gain experience in a sport that’s new to them. Such is the case for Grace McDaniel, who ran varsity track for four years at James Martin High School in Arlington before joining the rowing team last fall.
“It’s the same level of difficulty and competition and intensity (as track),” McDaniel said when asked why she is pursuing rowing. “It’s really just very suiting for me.”
Despite having athletes who are new to rowing, Texas is not waiting for anyone. After a historic season where the team placed third at the NCAA Championships, the Longhorns are looking to build upon this success.
Freshmen such as McDaniel and Hilary Salvas — who has been rowing since her sophomore year of high school — are critical to this effort.
When asked what drew her to Texas, Salvas cited the esteem of the program (athletically and academically) as a major reason why, along with the pride of representing the University.
“It’s a tradition of excellence that’s so much bigger than the individual and I just think that’s something that’s really fun to be a part of and it makes me really proud,” Salvas said.
After a strong showing in the Regatta, Texas now looks forward to its next meet at the San Diego Crew Classic as the Longhorns continue their quest to place at the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row.