Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lake Effect

TigerBlog was at an event at Little Miss TigerBlog's elementary school when he noticed one of those learning posters that hang on the walls.

This particular one was a math poster, done by a professional company, not by the school or a teacher or a student. And there, on the poster, was the following problem:
If three pounds of bananas cost $1, how much do 11 pounds of bananas cost?

The poster then solved the problem, except it solved it by figuring out how much one pound of bananas would cost. The mistake was either that it was supposed to say "how much does one pound of bananas cost" or be solved for 11 pounds of bananas. Of course, had it meant to be solved for one pound, it would have changed "do" to "does."

It all left TigerBlog wondering how in the world this poster ever made it past all of the eyes that have to have seen it without anyone's noticing this, from the production of it through the school itself?

As an aside, the correct answer is $3.67.

Since TB aced that little test, he came up with another one for himself.

If Princeton has 1,000 varsity athletes and the four rowing teams account for 200 athletes (using approximations, of course), what percentage of the Princeton athletics are rowers?

Or, even better than that, what percentage of the undergraduate population of 4,900 are varsity rowers?

The first answer, of course, is that approximately 20% of Princeton's varsity athletes are rowers. The second answer, let's see, 200 divided by 4,900, so that's two divided by 49 so that's, well, a little more than 4%.

In other words, if you're in a lecture with 200 random students, then eight of those 200 would be varsity rowers.

Each varsity program at Princeton has its unique features, and rowing certainly does. For starters, there are more rowers than any other kinds of athletes.

Each gender has two varsity programs within the main program, yet all four (men's lightweight, men's heavyweight, women's open, women's lightweight) consider themselves to be one entity of Princeton Rowing. All four share one office, with no sub-divisions within that office.

To say it's a close-knit group would be an understatement. It has great camaraderie among its coaches and athletes, and its alumni group is as loyal and supportive as any.

It's also a Princeton team through and through. There are four head coaches, three of whom are Princeton alums: men's heavyweight coach Greg Hughes, men's lightweight coach Marty Crotty, women's lightweight coach Paul Rassam. The one who is not a Princeton alum, women's open coach Lori Dauphiny, has been here for 19 years, 14 of which have been spent as head coach.

There are also five assistant coaches, of whom four are Princeton grads.

For a pretty good look at what life in the boathouse is like, you might try watching this video.

Rowing itself is a physically demanding sport, one that completely zaps its competitors each time out. It's much like cross country in that it leaves the rowers wiped out the second they reach the finish line, except that in rowing, there's the extra issue that each rower has to be completely aligned with the others in the boat or else the boat will not go in the right direction.

The 2010 Princeton spring rowing season opens this Saturday, with women's open racing at Princeton while the men's lightweights are on the road. This begins a stretch where for about two months there will be racing on Lake Carnegie on most Saturdays.

Racing days at the boathouse are huge athletic/social events, and they begin first thing in the morning with novice races and third varsity races and build their way up to the first varsity.

One of the best parts of crew is the history of it, as the sport dates to June 13, 1872, the date of Princeton's first-ever race.

Each week, the teams row against one or two or three opponents, often for exotic sounding prizes such as The Eisenberg Cup, The Class of 1984 Plaque, The Childs Cup, The Compton Cup and many others.

TigerBlog was the rowing contact in 1998, when Princeton won the men's lightweight and heavyweight national championships on the Cooper River in Camden less than 30 minutes apart. There is a picture in the boathouse of the massive post-race celebration, and TB remembers standing next to the photographer as it was taken.

It's a picture of complete joy, one of the great celebration pictures that TB has ever seen. It's blown up in the boathouse to be several square feet.

TB's experience with the rowing programs was brief, but it did show him what a unique sport it is and how much the people who compete and coach for Princeton love it.

Check them out one Saturday morning. They're well worth watching.

1 comment:

OregonJim said...

As captain of the 1957 Lightweight Men's Varsity, i share in the memory of victories like those that you invoked, in our case of winning the EARCs and the Thames Cup at Henley twice. We were neither the first nor the last winning crew at Princeton; It's a long tradition at Princeton that we share with every incoming freshman and every graduating senior, who like us has to combine writing a thesis with killer practices every day.

So I send all the luck I can to you tomorrow. I remind you that the goal of all those practices is not to prove that you work hard. Of course you work hard. But the goal is to get from one end of the course to the finish line before the others do. So that's the kind of success I wish for you. Go fast, Tigers.

Jim Newcomer, '57