On April 18-19 PNRA was scheduled to host the 16th Mercer Lake Sprints in Mercer County Park. However, like it has affected many parts of our lives, the COVID-19 pandemic intervened. In order to still provide an event for our athletes, PNRA changed the event to the Virtual Mercer Lake Sprints. 15 teams ranging from Boston, MA, to Eugene, OR, participated in the virtual event with included events for rowing machines and also running events. The following is a report on the event from the Mercer Junior Novice Women’s perspective as prepared by Novice Women’s Coach Julia Howarth.
The Mercer Lake Sprints Regatta is a wonderful weekend of racing and despite the restrictions and changes we are currently experiencing, our team was determined to ensure the now virtual regatta was just as competitive and exciting as previous years. The novice girls team really stepped up to the challenge and did an incredible job staying focused in their preparation and on race day!
Our preparation for the race included a benchmark test day, one week prior. Armed with our new benchmarks (and some new PR’s!), we set our sights on the weekend of April 18th and 19th. Leading up to it, we motivated and encouraged each other to continue to train over Zoom. We tapered off the week leading up to the race and the rowers had a virtual team bonding Treasure Hunt the night before the race. The coxes had a Zoom session with Varsity Cox, Audrey, to go over race day coxing. On the morning of both race days we gathered together as a team, like we would on any race day, however this time it was on Zoom. We stretched, went through our usual warm up and wished each other good luck. The coxes broke off into meeting rooms on Zoom with the athletes who have access to an erg and ran through a self pre-written warmup. As a coach, it was incredible to see every athlete on the team be involved and connected despite the distance there is between us all!
The team raced hard and pushed themselves to new PR’s from both the runners and erg-ers! Overall, our team 3K average dropped by over a minute and 30 seconds. Our Novice Second Four who won their event, also beat the averages of the two non-Mercer boats entered into the Novice Four event, and would have come in second if we were able to enter multiple boats into an event!
It was fantastic to have both other Mercer athletes and athletes from clubs in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, and Oregon participate in the virtual regatta. It was really motivating for the athletes to be virtually racing others and to be able to look forward to having the results posted at the end of the weekend. Overall, although it wasn’t rowing on the water of Mercer Lake, enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company it was a very successful weekend of racing! The Mercer Lake Sprints Regatta is a wonderful weekend of racing and despite the restrictions and changes we are currently experiencing, our team was determined to ensure the now virtual regatta was just as competitive and exciting as previous years. The novice girls team really stepped up to the challenge and did an incredible job staying focused in their preparation and on race day!