Q & A with Washington's Scott Schmidt

May 4, 2006

The Washington men's and women's rowing teams host the 20th-annual Windermere Cup regatta, Saturday, May 6. Racing begins at 10:20 a.m. on the Montlake Cut. The Huskies are joined by elite competition, including the men's and women's national teams from Russia along with the Central Florida women and Michigan men.

The Windermere Cup is a spectacle unrivaled in collegiate crew. It is among the premier regattas in the sport of rowing with thousands of spectators lining both sides of the course for its entire 2,000-meter length.

Senior Scott Schmidt (Grosse Ile, Mich.) rows in Washington's varsity eight crew. He spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing his thoughts on the upcoming Windermere Cup.

GoHuskies.com: How is the season going?

Scott Schmidt: 'We graduated a lot of really good talent last year. Initially this year, our guys are lighter and taller and we're pretty fit. Rowing, in my opinion, is about finding the right combinations. It's hard losing two races to some really good crews right off the bat. It's especially frustrating for me and other guys are frustrated too. It's all about finding the right combination though. You can feel the energy in the boat and when we're wasting energy, it's bittersweet because we know we have a lot more speed to get. It would feel a lot worse losing to those boats if we had rowed a perfect race and lost by that much. We know we have a lot more speed to get for the Pac-10s and the IRAs. So I'm really looking forward to making some switches, even within our own lineup to find some more speed.'

GH: What are your feelings about Windermere Cup?

SS: 'If I lost Windermere Cup, I don't know what I'd do. It's one of the most exciting races that I think anyone could have the privilege of taking part in. It's going to be sad because this will be my last chance to race in front of 40,000 people, probably ever. It's an experience and I'm really fortunate to be allowed to row in this race. Preparation is the same as all the other races, but you know everyone is gunning for you because it's the Windermere Cup.'

GH: Do you remember your first Windermere Cup race?

SS: 'I was really excited. The week leading up to it, boats starting piling up along the race course, more and more every day, and you get to Windermere Cup day and boats are lined up and you hear horns going off. The only thing I really remember is thinking, `don't lose.' Then 1,000 meters in I could smell hot dogs and gas from the other boats, so it's a different type of experience for sure.'

GH: How does the volume from fans differ from other races?

SS: 'You really can't hear your coxswain, especially in the varsity race. It's pretty loud. Most races I just hear a murmur and I can't focus on anything, but the rhythm of the oars and the oar locks. But, there's just an aura of energy around it and it motivates and pushes you. It's definitely one of the most exciting races, especially afterwards.'

GH: How does the large crowd impact you during the race?

SS: 'It's motivating for me. Some people are internally motivated and some are externally motivated. I like pulling for the home crowd a lot, so it's fun to pull hard with the home crowd there. I always pull hard, but it helps me to find a seventh gear and keep going.'

GH: What is it like to row against an international boat that you know nothing about?

SS: 'You have no idea what you're going to face. All I really know about the Russian National Team is that they've had some really fast boats in the past. From year-to-year, crews can change, but I'm expecting them to be better than anyone we have raced. It's exciting and a little nerve-racking, but that's what motivates you in the training leading up to the race.'

GH: What do you know about the other crew you will face, Michigan?

SS: 'They have a good coach and a lot of good athletes. I'm from Michigan, so it's kind of cool that they're coming out. I don't personally know too many of the guys on the team, but I know that they have a really good coach and based off their facilities and the money they're allotted, they could have a really, really good team. They got second in the Freshman 8 in 2001, so they have a good program there.'

GH: Since you are a senior, what plans do you have for after graduation?

SS: 'I'm basically finished with my degree in Sociology which has taught me a lot about people, especially people in the United States. It was a great experience for me to come here. Hopefully, after this year what I'm planning on doing is rowing for the national team if I can make it. They I'd like to go to the Olympics in Beijing, China. Kiel Peterson and I are going to train in a pair together.'

GH: How about plans after rowing?

SS: 'I've thought a lot about a whole bunch of different jobs and the thing that excites me most is to be a firefighter. I want to knock down doors with axes and toss people over my shoulder and jump out of windows.'