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Badgers Rowing - Part 1

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Did you think you were going to see something else? I was in Madison this past three days for parents weekend. Got to go to the Wisconsin/Minnesota football came at Camp Randall on Saturday. Wow that was an experience! Big Ten at its most entertaining!

My daughter is a member of the Wisconsin Rowing team. We were able to watch the last on the water practice of the fall season on Friday. I've got to say I've always considered myself a late season hard core fisherman but these girls are insane! Temps were around 37, stiff northwest breeze, occasional snow flurries. They use no gloves, wear spandex, have water splashing in the boat, and row at night! They use strobes on the boats to warn off any other boaters, not that there were any that night! The workouts they go through, well I wouldn't last a day. They started the fall with over 200 rowers, are down to 34 and will lose more this winter mostly to the physical demands on the body and the time commitment.

The boats are around 70' long, weigh about 212 lbs. and cost about $35,000 a piece. Some are a bit more (carbon fiber) some a bit less. You can't step in the bottom of the boat or you go through the bottom! You can't push off the side with the oars or you put a hole in the boat, touch the dock with the boat...a hole. It seems like anything you do will put a hole in these boats.

Sorry for the volume of photos but its hard keeping the shots to a minimum and still trying to give an essence of what this sport is about.

#1 The Wisconsin rowing program has a long history with many NCAA championships and Olympic rowers.


#2 Oars are stacked out on the ramp before the boats are carried out.


#3 Lifting the oars up and attaching them to the rigging. Carbon fiber, very light! They are color coded for port and starboard.


#4 Rowers listening to the coxswain, no talking in the boat while around the dock or racing! The coxswain is the ultimate authority in the boat.


#5 Launching from the dock, oars up so no pressure is put on the hull...don't want holes it the boat.


#6 Rowing away. Only half the boat rows when going to the course. The non-rowers stabilize the rigging by putting their hands on it. You can see that in some of the aft rowers.


#7 Going to the course. I didn't follow them to where they were rowing because it was a 4 mile walk round trip, it was getting dark and I had already walked 2 miles with 75 pounds of photo gear. I did go about another mile and shot some shots of them racing but they are from a distance.


#8 I am only showing this shot to show the rowing in the dark. I could only see the boat strobes it was so dark so this shot the camera brightened considerably. It also seems as if some of the high ISO issues have been corrected some with the 50D latest firmware. This is the only 50D shot, it got dark and I needed that camera to get any shot! No noise reduction software, just in-camera NR on strong. ISO 6400 I believe on this shot, 300/2.8, hand held, 1/100s with IS on, cropped at least 25%.


I will post a few more shots in another thread showing the boat house, that is truly a wonder!

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Very cool, Dbl! I was wondering if you had been to watch them practice or not. Thanks for the story behind the pictures as well.

I like the shot of the oars lined up on the dock, and the last perspective shot.

How is your daughter liking the rowing team?

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Thanks, fishinchicks! She loves it but the time involved and the physical demands are a real strain! Weights and running 3 mornings a week, rowing 6 days a week for 2 1/2 hours with a Saturday 7:00am practice.

On Saturday we were walking to the boathouse about 8:00am for a tour and came across a bunch of athletes running up and down Bascom Hill. That is one of UW Wisconsin's more famous spots. We found out it was the rowers, they ran the hill 10 times after a 4 mile run! By comparison the football team thought it was a major accomplishment when they ran it 7 times after walking over from the football stadium!

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Deitz, I do know early this fall they swamped 3 boats in one morning and had to swim them back to shore and carry them 1/2 mile to the boathouse. I think if you sneeze you can tip one. When they lifted the boats out of the water the other night there was an awful lot of water that came dumping out and on top of them.

In order to make the team you have to take a swim test in 55F to 60F water for 10 minutes. You tread and them swim back to shore. I think a few dropped out after that one!

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Very nice shots and interesting story.

My hat is off to your daughter and the team, I would not make it through the day!



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Not sure if I would be a big fan of flipping a boat, not having a PFD, and having my feet stuck to the bottom of the boat.. LOL.. brave young ladies!!! Loved watching the rowing at the Olympics!

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Looks like your daughter needs a bigger boat!

"Got to go to the Wisconsin/Minnesota football came at Camp Randall on Saturday. Wow that was an experience! Big Ten at its most entertaining!"

Sounds like you now understand why so many of us college football fans are excited for Minnesota's outdoor, on-campus stadium to open up next year! Camp Randall and Madison are what the Big 10 experience is all about.

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