BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh rowing team concludes its season this weekend when it competes in the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, beginning on Friday. The regatta marks the largest collegiate championship race in the country. For the first time in its history, Saturday’s finals will air live on 6ABC in Philadelphia and streamed worldwide on ESPN3.com.
Over 3,000 student-athletes from more than 100 colleges and universities in North America will compete on Philadelphia's Schuylkill River on Friday. On Saturday, the best of the best will have the opportunity to compete in the finals and be seen in races shown live around the globe. For more information on the Dad Vail Regatta, including heat sheets, please click here.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the team to race against crews from around the country and see how we stack up,” said Lehigh head coach Brian Conley. “The tradition of the Dad Vail is incredible. Since they have added the elite singles race, consisting of Olympians and World Champions, it will help us race at our best and bring a new level to our racing.”
Seven Lehigh crews are set to participate - four men’s (Varsity Eight, Varsity Four, Freshmen Eight, Freshmen Four) and three women’s (Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight, Freshmen Four).
The Lehigh women are coming off a sixth-place finish at the Patriot League Championships on Apr. 24 in Worcester. Leading the way was the Second Varsity crew, which came in fourth, just behind Bucknell (6:57.2), Navy (6:59.6) and Holy Cross (7:07.4) with a time of 7:17.9. The Mountain Hawks placed ahead of MIT and Colgate.
The men have not been in action since beating Lafayette in the River Cup nearly a month ago (Apr. 16). The Men’s Freshmen Eight and Lightweight Four were victorious against the Leopards. In the end, the Mountain Hawks topped Lafayette, 35-26, for the overall River Cup crown.
“The extra time off from racing has allowed us to refine our rowing stroke and our lineups a little more without the worry of racing,” said Conley. “The team has worked really hard in these off weeks to ensure that they are at their peak for this race. It has been more of a bonus than a hindrance to have this extra time off. The team is excited and ready to go.”
For Conley, in his first season as Lehigh head coach, it would be special to finish the year with a strong performance at one of the biggest races the sport has to offer.
“To finish our season with our best performances is always one of our goals,” he said. “We spend countless hours practicing for only six to seven minutes of racing at a time. It is a long journey over the year and to hold the focus for so long is difficult to do. We have done a fantastic job of doing that this year and I am looking forward to the new speed that these Lehigh crews have put together.
“We are putting our focus on one race at a time for this regatta because you need to race well in each in order to move forward to the next day,” he continued. “Our goal is to put the best possible race together for Friday and then we will worry about the next race. It is a difficult road ahead but I think we’re ready to step it up a notch.”