Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Series: 'On the Water' with Matt Miller – UVa To Compete at Henley Royal Regatta

Matt Miller and the UVa Seniors 'support' Frank Biller (Photo: Allen Miller)
Introducing a new series called On the Water, which will take a behind-the-scenes look from an athlete's (or coach's) perspective into training and racing, and what it takes to be the best. In our first installment, we go OTW with Matt Miller from the University of Virginia as ACRA Coach of the Year Frank Biller prepares his crew for the international stage at Henley Royal Regatta. Matt will keep us posted on how the training is progressing, what the experience of going to Henley is like for US collegiate athletes, and how they're racing is going as we move into the regatta. Here's the first update from the man himself:

As would be expected, spirits were high after returning to Charlottesville from ACRAs. The team took a few days off to rest and recover before Henley selections. This was a big change from daily schedules dictated by rowing. Much of the team went home to visit family before Henley training or for the summer to start jobs and internships. Those who remained in Charlottesville greeted the women’s rowing team as they returned from NCAAs and had a relaxing afternoon at a swimming hole in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

During summer months, athletes represent a higher proportion of the student population in Charlottesville. Though the men’s rowing team is not a varsity sport, we enjoy following the successes of Virginia athletics, and there have been many of late. Just after returning from ACRAs, we watched in a local bar as the lacrosse team won an NCAA championship. Last Friday Robby Andrews went from last to first to take the 800m NCAA outdoor track title, and on Monday the baseball team rallied with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to advance to the College World Series. Very exciting times indeed here in Charlottesville.

Henley selections for the eight and four began with 15 rowers (11 varsity, 4 novice) and two coxswains. Time trials and lineup switches were the norm for the first few days. The eight is now set and, with the addition of a novice, appears to be surpassing its ACRA boat speed. Selections continue for what is shaping up to be a very competitive four, which has, at times, beaten fours of V8 rowers.

Frank has the team working hard in two-a-days that often also include a lifting circuit. The team was forced inside for long cardio work on two afternoons last week as the heat index topped 100°F. Stretching, varying training difficulties and periods of rest have kept the team injury free.

Back to “eat, sleep, row.” But with Henley on the horizon, the work is well worth it. -MM
The UVa men have just two more days before they take off for England, where they'll look to acclimate themselves to Greenwich Mean Time, British weather, and Henley banter. More to come from Charlottesville. 

-RR

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