Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On The Water

TigerBlog has no idea how many times he's driven back and forth across the Scudders Falls Bridge.

Whatever the exact number is, it's pretty high.

The Scudders Falls Bridge connects New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Interstate 95, above the Delaware River. There really aren't all falls underneath the bridge, but that's still the name.

TigerBlog learned quite a bit about the bridge he takes for granted when he looked on Wikipedia. For instance, there used to be another bridge across the Delaware in the heart of Yardley, the first town on the Pennsylvania side and a town in which TigerBlog spends a great deal of time.

The old bridge, which connected Yardley with Ewing, was destroyed in a flood in 1955. TigerBlog never knew it existed at all, even though he's been at the spot where the bridge used to be about a billion times. Apparently, this bridge touched Yardley where Afton Avenue reaches Route 32, where now there is a veterans' memorial.

Route 32 is one of TigerBlog's favorite roads. If you start out in Yardley and go up Route 32, you'll be on the shore of the Delaware the entire time.

Usually, there are ocean people, river people and lake people. TB is all three. He loves the water - especially when viewed from the shoreline.

TigerBlog loves the beach. He grew up near it, and there's something about the smell of the salt water, the wind that whips off the ocean and the sunrise or sunset over the horizon that he'll always love.

But TB also loves the Delaware.

There's a peaceful stillness about the water even as it flows downstream, easing past any observer from the shore. Unlike the beach, there are a multitude of colors, with the blue of the water, the green of the trees on both banks, the brown of the rocks.

Peaceful. Relaxing. And in many ways stunning, another example of what nature can do. It's enough to make TigerBlog lose his thought in the middle of a sentence as he just stares at the natural beauty.

Not all waterways are so peaceful. Certainly the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake in Rio won't be peaceful in the next few weeks.

Freitas Lake is the site of the Olympic rowing when the Games begin Aug. 5. Princeton will be well represented there.

Princeton rowing already had three alums who had qualified for Rio, and that number doubled over the weekend. And a seventh Princeton alum - recent alum Martin Barakso - is currently an alternate for Canada.

Gevvie Stone, who finished seventh in the single sculls at the London Games, had already qualified in that event again. Kate Bertko, who rowed in the same boat as Stone as Princeton romped to the NCAA championship in 2006, will row in the doubles.

Glenn Ochal, who won a bronze medal in the men's fours in 2012, had already qualified as well, this time in the men's eight.

Three more Princeton alums earned their spots this past weekend.

Lauren Wilkinson won a silver medal in the Canadian women's eight in 2012 in London, and she'll be back - as the stroke - searching for a gold this time, as the Canadians challenge the Americans.

Robin Prendes and Tyler Nase will make up half of the U.S. men's lightweight men's 4 without coxswain. Prendes was in the same event in London, where the U.S. finished eighth. Nase and Prendes were teammates at Princeton before Prendes graduated in 2011 and Nase two years later.

Princeton rowing has at least six Olympians for the fifth straight time. That is one of the most impressive facts about Princeton Athletics that TigerBlog knows.

Princeton won seven medals in the 2012 Olympics, and four of them came from rowers. Again, it's hard to underestimate just how good the rowing program at Princeton is and has been for decades.

As the Summer Olympics approach, Princeton knows that it will be represented in soccer, fencing, water polo, field hockey, rowing and track and field. If TigerBlog is counting correctly, there are 13 Princetonians who have already earned their trips to Rio - and that doesn't count Robby Andrews, the volunteer assistant cross country coach, who finished second in the 1,500 at the Olympic Trials.

That also means that nearly half of Princeton's Olympians again come from rowing. It's a testament to the coaches - Greg Hughes, Lori Dauphiny, Marty Crotty, Paul Rassam - and the system that is in place there to be successful.

They work hard together. They take enormous pride in Princeton rowing. And they achieve, year after year, Olympiad after Olympiad.

This time will be no different.

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