It’s dark at 5:00 in the morning, and I’m sitting in a boat only slightly wider than I am, bobbing up and down on the murky water of the Anacostia River. There’s no motor, only my 8 teammates and me. We sit motionless, cold hands gripping our oars and waiting. Then: “row!” The boat jumps forward as the oars push against the water, and soon we are in a rhythm: the oars dipping down into the water, our muscles straining and the boat moving, then lifting the oars up and resetting, all in a few seconds, before repeating again and again and again.
Two hours later we would be back on land, where we would carry the boat back into the boathouse, pile into the vans, and head back to school. There, we would always be one of the first few into the dining hall to eat breakfast. We would sit together as a team, talking and eating until someone realized they had to get to their morning class, at which point everyone would dash back to their dorms to shower and get ready for the day.
I joined Crew of my own choice, something my floormates often questioned. While it was sometimes a struggle to wake up and go exercise, there were benefits. Morning classes didn’t seem so early after I’d been up for 5 hours already. Napping was easier. I didn’t have to clear my schedule later to exercise. And I learned a new sport.
Sometimes it rained, and sometimes the sunrise was beautiful. Sometimes we worked together and sometimes we couldn’t get in sync. It was often cold. Our races, called “regattas”, were a huge pain to get ready for and go to, but also some of the most fun I’ve had with the team.
I started in September and am posting this now as our regular season ends today. We’ll continue to have winter practices where we workout, but we won’t go back to the boathouse until the Spring.