The boys in the boat
The True Story of an American Olympic Rowing Team
An Olympic Dream Come True
In 1936, America traveled to Germany to participate in the Olympics, an international competition of almost all sports. The American rowing team had a fantastic finish, placing 1st in the whole race! But, they didn't just decide they were going to represent America. They had to show their skill, on and off the water. Becoming an Olympic team is one thing, but becoming the best rowing team in the world is very difficult to endure. They must grow strength, and a strong bond with each other. Every story has a beginning to tell, and this story begins in collage.
On the first days of school in 1934 at the University of Washington, freshman had the opportunity to tryout for the school's freshman rowing team. Many tried out and many made the team. But, as the winter came closer and the water becoming more and more frigid, many of the freshman had to drop out. What was left at the end of winter were mostly the farm boys that lived in the country that endure everything. Once racing season came very close, the remaining freshman were put into teams, based on skill. The best rowers were put on the national team, and the rest were put on regional rowing teams. Racing against the best freshman teams in the United States was very hard, but they had to try their best and row as if they would never be able to row again.
Racing Season Begins
On April 13th, 1935, the Washington's freshman rowing team faced other rowing teams for the first race. With those racers was the California team, the returning champion from the year before. At the beginning of the race, California exploded off the line, rowing as fast as they could. But, Washington did not give up and took the lead. They ended up winning the race and beating the record for the fastest time by almost 20 seconds. The Washington freshman and varsity crews got their spot in the national championship. On June 16th, it was the day the Washington crews would fight for the championship. Washington's freshman boat won the national championship , and were declared the best freshman team in the country.
The next year, everyone returned back from summer vacation. The rowers were no longer competing for the freshman team, but they were competing for the varsity and junior varsity boats. The returning championship team started off as the varsity boat, but slowly they became tired. The head coach split them up, trying to make the best boat he can make for a championship, and maybe for the country. Finally, The coach made the varsity and junior varsity teams. He had a race between all the boats to see if he had done a good job. The varsity boat came in first, followed by the JV team in second. These two teams would square off against some of the best rowers in the country.
The fight for the Olympics
Because the Olympics were in this year, The winner of the National championship would represent America in the Olympics. Although they were not that great in the beginning of the season, Washington's Varsity team ended up being the freshman team from the previous year. They won the regional race and moved forward to the National Championship. In the championship included California, and many other colleges. At the beginning of the race, both California and Washington jumped off the line. Although California had a higher stroke rate per minute, Washington were pushing the water with all they had. At the end of the race, Washington won three boat lengths ahead of California and they beat the course record by 37 seconds. Washington would represent America in Berlin, Germany.
Go Big or Go Home
In the qualifying match for the finals in the Olympics, The American team beat the original Olympic record and earned their spot in the finals to compete for the gold medal. In the finals, the coxswain, or the caller, did not hear the start noise and. Because of that, the American team started late. They were in dead last and were behind by a lot. they would need a miracle to happen. But, something bad had happened. One of the American crew mates had nearly passed out in the middle of the race. They had to finish without him. The Americans were finally only a boat length behind. They pushed, puled, pushed, pulled. They rocked back and fourth, back and fourth. They tried everything they could do, and finally they were almost in first. It was a photo finish, but the picture showed that the American team crossed the finish line six tenths of a second in front of the Italian boat. America had won the Gold medal and when they hoped for a miracle, it came to them.