Teal Cohen, captain of the varsity crew team, was invited to train and race with the 2016 U.S.A. CanAmMex team this past summer. Cohen and her teammates raced against other teams from Canada and Mexico, bringing home the win for the 4- and 8+ at the CanAmMex Regatta which was held from July 10-18 in Sarasota, Florida.
Cohen has been rowing since the fall of her freshman year. Now a senior, Cohen has put in hundreds of hours of hard work to improve her stroke, strength and scores. This summer, she participated in a identification camp for the CanAmMex team in New London, Connecticut, where she stayed at Connecticut College and rowed out of the Coast Guard Academy boathouse.
At the identification camps held across the country, rowers are required to pull a 2,000 meter erg test and then row on the water for the coaches. From there, rowers send spring competition results and update coaches on new personal records on their 2k tests. Invitations are sent out mid-May.
Only 45 girls were selected out of hundreds of participants from all over the country.
“I was so excited that not only the few weeks of hard work payed off, but the past three years,” Cohen said.
Cohen attributes her success at being selected to the many hours of hard work and training she’s put in, including early morning and afternoon practices, attending sculling camp during the summer and working out on her own.
“Honestly, everything I’ve ever done helped me get to this point: every early morning in the gym, every stroke I took on the water and every time I opted to get to bed early on weekends to prepare for morning practice,” Cohen said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without my Hockaday coach who is always helping me improve, my parents who have supported me the whole way and my Hockaday teammates who push me to improve every day.”
She decided to try out for the team herself, but described her parents as “helpful and supportive” of her decision.
The CanAmMex team, coached by Laura Simon, assistant coach at Yale University, practiced twice a day for a week in Sarasota, Florida. Practice was from 5:20 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
“Whenever we weren’t at practice it was extremely important to rest for the next one, to ensure you would be in your best condition,” Cohen said.
After five weeks of intense practice, the team traveled to Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, where they would compete against Canada and Mexico at the CanAmMex Regatta.
Though the Hockaday crew team sculls, or rowing with two oars, Cohen was selected for the sweep boats. She rowed in a 8+, consisting of eight girls plus a coxswain, as the 7th seat, and in a 4-, consisting of four girls, in the bow seat.
Before racing, the team talked about their race plans and what was necessary to win. Cohen knew personally how difficult the races were going to be, and she needed to utilize all of her training and past work in that very moment.
“During the race it is important to be in full focus, and just take one stroke after another. 2,000 meter races are extremely hard, and honestly I don’t remember the last 500 meters of either of my races, that’s how hard I was trying,” Cohen said. “It took everything I had to make the selection for the team, and I wasn’t about to let my teammates down by not trying my hardest.”
She also recalled the experience of being on the starting line next to other countries as “surreal”.
“A year ago I couldn’t have ever imagined myself in that position, and to actually be there was really amazing,” Cohen said.
After many hard 2,000 meter races, Cohen and her team won the 8+ and 4- races.
“I definitely got a sense of what rowing will be like at a Division I school, as well as how selection goes for the U23 and Senior National teams,” Cohen said. “Even though it was extremely hard, it was an amazing experience.”
Cohen said she is still in contact with her teammates to this day, and is excited to see them at the upcoming regattas. She plans to row for a Division I school after graduating, though she does not know which school yet. Though she is mainly focused on the upcoming goal of making the Junior National Team, she is also contemplating trying to participate in the next Olympics.
“First I am focusing on making the Junior National Team for World Championships next summer, then I will focus on college rowing and possibly the Under-23 National Team,” Cohen said. “If things continue to go well, then why not.”