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Hurricane Lilly threatened Sarasota just prior to the crew leaving for Boston but veered out to sea only to reappear with sixty mile an hour winds at the Head of the Charles. This forced the first cancellation in the regatta’s 32 years history and was a major disappointment to our girls four of Mackenzie Mudgett, Stefani Sobotka, Whitney Robbins, Annie Hammel and Lacy Doolin who were looking forward to racing against the Princeton Freshmen now coxed by former teammate Katie Williams.

This year we learned how difficult it is to stay on top. That lesson was brought home to us early at the Head of the Hooch where we won only two silver and two bronze medals. This marked the first time in four years that we did not win a gold medal in any event. It was a new experience to a team that had won 14 gold medals out of 16 events entered in the previous two years at the Hooch.

We rebounded at the Sunburn Regatta, winning 15 medals in the nineteen events in which we had an entry but had to settle for a bronze in the MV8+, losing to Augusta and Leon. It was clear that we had our work cut out for us in the upcoming spring season if we were to perform up to our usual standard.

The season was mixed with many wins and many close races. The big question throughout the season was whether Riverview be able to collect a fifth straight Men’s Varsity 8+ State Championship? The answer was “close but not quite.” In the Finals it was, Jacksonville Episcopal 4:54.60, Riverview 4:56.31 and Winter Park 4:56.60. So we came home with silver. The girls also collected silver with a time of 5:36.75, just behind Winter Park’s 5:34.40.

Over the winter, the US National Team returned to their “Sarasota home” to train again out of our boathouse. It was a great treat to have Bill Carlucci, the stroke of that Olympic Bronze medal lightweight four, speak to us at our annual awards dinner where he gave an inspiring account about his quest for Olympic glory. We all felt he was a part of our club’s family and what he had to say meant a great deal to us all.

We were very proud to have Chris Liwski become our third rower in four years to earn a place on the US Junior National Team and compete in the coxed four at the Junior World Championships in Hazelwinkle, Belgium. Peter de Manio was invited to spend a week as a guest coach to assist in the selection process for the Junior National Team and enjoyed the experience.

Here is what some of our graduating seniors from the class of 1997 had to say about their rowing experience with our organization. Annie Hammel, “It got me into shape, helped me organize my time, better my grades, become more self-confident and realize my goals.” Annie went on to row for the University of Michigan. Maya Joseph, “Crew has helped me in so many ways. I now feel I can do anything. It’s improved my work ethic – and not just in rowing, because everything I’ve learned here at the club can be applied to school and elsewhere.” Maya continued her studies at Georgetown where she rowed and played the violin in the university orchestra while studying international relations.

Mackenzie Mudgett was recruited by Princeton because of her experience as a member of our crew, “This is where I wanted to come and the club was a great help in my getting here.” Alex Nicolaides, “Crew taught me discipline and how to organize my time. When I am physically fit, my mind works better.” Gene Henley adds to these thoughts, “Crew taught me how to deal with the real world and also how to deal with other people.”

Rob Biegel, “I’ve made some of my closest friends on crew.” Neil de Guia, “I love crew because it is a hard and classic sport. I also love the camaraderie.” Neil went on to study at University of Michigan.


Chris Liwski in his Junior National Team uniform practicing for the Junior World Championships in Hazelwinkle, Belgium.

1996 - 1997

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