June 21, 2000
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Corrie McGrath, a rower on the Washington State University women's varsity crew, completed participation in an exclusive national training camp for freshman last week.
McGrath, from Marysville, Washington, was one of 16 freshmen invited to participate in the Freshman Rowers Camp conducted at the ARCO Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista, California, by the United States Women's Rowing National Team coach, Hartmut Buschbacher. The camp ran from June 1-17, with water training at the Lower Otay Resevoir, in conjunction with the pre-elite camp where athletes are prepared for the US National Team tryouts.
Freshman camp participants were required to submit a supervised timed test of 6,000 meters on an ergometer (stationary rowing machine) each month during the Fall. Coach Buschbacher, who did not hold his usual regional identification camps in January, watched McGrath compete at the San Diego Crew Classic and invited her to camp.
Athletes at the freshman camp did not have "seat" racing and were not to have the pressure of performing for selection to a team, but instead be introduced to the rigors and routines of Olympic level training, and were enticed to continue their own personal development at an elite level.
"We were coached by several coaches including Hartmut Buschbacher, the Olympic coach, and during some practices, we rowed along with the National Team," McGrath said. "The goal was to learn several exercises and know how to execute them well. They stressed quality and not quantity.
"Since this is an Olympic year, the Freshman camp was mixed in with the pre-elite camp. Those rowers were trying out for the Nation's Cup Team (end of July in Copenhagen) and one of the freshman camp rowers ended up making that team."
McGrath reflected on the camp being both physically and mentally challenging, with a high stress level because of the national team coach's presence.
"It was competitive too, since they told us at the beginning they would be sending a boat to the Nation's Cup and we didn't know if it would be a four or they'd also talked about sending a freshman eight," McGrath said. "We made close friendships in a short time and it would have been harder (to compete) if we hadn't been so close."
McGrath, who is an experienced rower after previously competing for the Everett Rowing Club while at Marysville Pilchuck High, was honored earlier this month with selection to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches' Association (CRCA) West Region first team.
"I learned a lot about upping the intensity level, trying to be more competitive and not lose sight of goals. I had no idea what it meant to be exhausted," McGrath said laughing. "Those girls workout so hard all the time, it's absolutely amazing."
One place McGrath felt underwhelmed was in the weight training at the ARCO Center. "We did some introductory weight training with just the freshmen, but I felt that being on the WSU strength and conditioning program, I was more than qualified. This was boring."
Former Cougar rowers who participated in previous pre-elite training camps included (years at WSU): Shannon Lipscy (1991-94), Kristi Hall (1993-96), Stephanie Trout (1992-94), Ann Rich (1992-95), Rachel Johnson (1991-94), and Michelle Kistler (1993-96).
Benefits to McGrath and the Cougar rowing program will be evident when practice resumes this Fall. "The coaches were very clear that they understood that we would return to our college programs and row differently, but camp training is more of what they'd like to be seeing," McGrath said. "We kept redefining our boundaries and exceeding our goals and learning to be more effective. I'm excited to share that with my WSU teammates."