Rowing Report with Washington's Helen Wall

May 28, 2008

The Washington women's rowing team learned last week that they would be competing this weekend (May 30 - June 1) at the NCAA Rowing Championships. UW is one of only three schools to compete in all 12 championships since the NCAA began sponsoring women's rowing in 1997.

Wall has rowed in the Huskies' top two eights all season. She will compete on Lake Natoma for UW, which is bringing a varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four to Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Helen spent a few minutes this week with

Go Where were you when you found out about the NCAA tournament invitation?

Helen Wall: 'I was actually in the boathouse. I had class from 12:30 to 1:30 and I actually left a few times to check the website and I looked and saw that the field had been loaded. I didn't watch the video, but saw the field was loaded. When I clicked the link, I saw that it gave the wrong address. So I left the computer room to find some people and they said we got in. When I walked to the coaches office, they said we got in. So I was like 'Okay we're going,' and then I called my parents.'

GoHuskies: What was your initial reaction to the NCAA berth?

HW: 'It's really good. We're excited to get a fresh start and to see how we can do at NCAAs. We are really happy that we got the bid.'

GoHuskies: Were you aware before the NCAA announcement that Washington had been invited every previous year, one of only three schools in that category?

HW: 'Oh yeah.'

GoHuskies: What are your feeelings on keeping that 12-year streak alive?

HW: 'Its pretty cool. It is a pretty small crowd and I am glad to be a part of it.'

GoHuskies: You rowed on Lake Natoma in the Sacramento area on May 18 in Pac 10 Championship when the temperature was around 100 degrees. How difficult was it to row twice in those conditions?

HW: 'The first time wasn't so bad because it was in the morning. But the afternoon heat was pretty bad. I think it was actually triple digits. When I finished I had trouble catching my breath and I actually got treated for heat exhaustion at the trainer's tent.'

GoHuskies: Is it difficult when you train in conditions in Seattle that aren't too warm and then have such a drastic jump in temperature where you compete?

HW: 'Yes it is. We've done heat training where you put on as many clothes as you can. It's still not the same as rowing in triple digits in the sun. It's really hard to go from rainy Seattle weather to blistering heat.'

GoHuskies: Since the Pac 10 Regatta was at the same location as the NCAA Championships, does that give you an advantage with experience on the course?

HW: 'I think so. A lot of the racing is done in the morning so it won't be as hot. But hopefully we'll be ready for the heat next time.'

GoHuskies: What are the crews doing to prepare for the NCAA Regatta?

HW: 'We're going to go find the fastest boats possible and Bob (Ernst) is going to help us do it.'

GoHuskies: Usually a team would be fine tuning the week before a championship, but Coach Ernst has opened every seat up for competition. Talk a little bit about practices last week.

HW: 'We didn't have practice on Tuesday and I came down and worked out on Tuesday afternoon which was a good thing because we came in the next morning and there was a note on the board that mentioned we had a 2k in the afternoon. We were going to work out on the ergs. The guys had that before last year so it wasn't a complete surprise, but at the same time we know surprise 2ks aren't exactly a pleasant surprise.'

GoHuskies: For people who haven't rowed competitively or on an ergometer, how does rowing a 2k on an erg compare to rowing in a race? Is it more taxing or less taxing?

HW: 'It's a lot harder to get the stroke rate up on a machine that you're rowing by yourself. But it is equally as hard I would say. On the water you're also pulling for your teammates as well and on the erg you're still pulling hard because you're the only person pulling.'

GoHuskies: Were you happy with your performance last Wednesday on the erg?

HW: 'It was close to my PR. Obviously getting a PR is a goal every time you sit down. But my performance was consistent.'

GoHuskies: What did you do in the off season to put yourself in a position to be in the top varsity crews all year long?

HW: 'You train all year round. I've done camps in the summer one here in Seattle, and one back home in Spokane. You do the camps that run for a month to a month and a half and afterward you try and erg and keep in shape so that when fall comes around and you've got 10k the first week then you're prepared for that.'

GoHuskies: The first regatta of the season, the San Diego Crew Classic, was a fantastic result for UW crews. Did that give some good confidence going into the season? What were your thoughts after winning that?

HW: 'It was really cool. I was in the jayvee boat at the time. San Diego had a really amazing course and the race itself was probalby the best event I've been to. It was really cool winning and it started the season off well.'

GoHuskies: What is your major?

HW: 'Math and economics.'

GoHuskies: Do you know what you'd like to do when you finish rowing at Washington?

HW: 'I am thinking of taking the test to go into grad school or possibly go into marketing.'

GoHuskies: How did you decide to attend the University of Washington?

HW: 'I am from the state of Washington. When you are a senior you don't really know what you want to do with your life and there are a lot of programs avalible here at the UW. I came and visited and it was really nice when I came.'

GoHuskies: Now that you've been here for a few years, what is it that makes the Washington rowing program so unique?

HW: 'Our boathouse is on campus and that's a big thing. And rowing is such a big part of our community. Another great thing we've got going for us is our great coaches.'

GoHuskies: Helen, thank you for your time and good luck at the NCAA Championships.

HW: 'Thank you.'