Rowing team day in the life: Race Day Edition

By Colby Wilson | April 6, 2022 7:35pm
The team carrying a boat into the boathouse after winning two races at the Husky Classic.
Media Credit: Marek Corsello / The Beacon

A race for the women’s rowing team may end in minutes, but it’s more than just their time on the water. For many, race day is a day-long affair. 

Graduate student Catherine Watson has adopted an entire routine, meant to prepare her to compete at her best. 

“I wake up around 5:20 a.m., wash my face, and start my coffee,” Watson said. 

She then puts on her race uniform. Then, depending on the weather, decides how many layers she needs to put on. 

Sports related superstitions are pretty common — some believe sitting a certain way during a football game will help their team win, others wear special clothes and jerseys. Those superstitions aren’t lost on the athletes in the game. Watson applies her makeup and does her hair in a special way on race day.

“I usually do my hair in braids or some creative buns,'' Watson said. 

After this, Watson puts on her sunglasses and heads off. 

Once the team personally prepares, they grab their bags and head down to the hotel lobby for breakfast. 

“Breakfast is usually the calm before the storm,” Watson said. “We get to chill and nothing is really serious yet.” 

Once breakfast is finished and the calm starts to fade, it’s time to start thinking about the race. 

“We get what we need from our bags, double check that we have our backpacks with everything we need for the race because we leave our duffels in the bus,” Watson said. 

When the gear check ends, the team focuses on their race plan. The plan can change due to the weather, so the team always checks with the coxswain — the person that keeps the team on track during the race and makes any tactical changes if needed. 

With the race plan established, the team gets on the bus and heads to the location of the race. Watson puts in her headphones for the ride.

“This is the most important time for me because I get to zone in and have time fully to myself.” Watson said. “This is the one time before the race I feel I have full control.” 

Once the team arrives at the racecourse, everyone needs to be ready to go. Everything needs to be in place because, once they step off the bus, it’s go time. 

“This is more of the intimidation tactic because it looks like you know what you’re doing and looks professional,” Watson said.

Right before the race, the team does their warm up routine for 20 minutes, rechecks the boats and has a brief conversation with their coach to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

“We then head down to the water and go do our thing,” Watson said. 

Junior Emmalee Dolcini washing a boat after a race.
by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

When the race concludes, the team meets up with their coach to tell him briefly how it went in the water. They then walk the boat back up to land, put it in slings, and go back to their coach giving him a more detailed explanation of what happened in the race. 

Watson will be running through this routine with the team again on April 16. The race is against Saint Mary’s and Seattle U in Vancouver, WA. 

Colby Wilson is a Sports Reporter for the Beacon. She can be reached at