Mirror Magazine

Giving it all you got
By Smriti Daniel
Passion makes for an unrelenting and exhausting companion. Some people know more about it than others, both in terms of sheer drudgery and ecstatic victory. Take the Ladies College Rowing Team (LCRT) for instance who spend five days a week in running (often literally) through an endless set of “fitness” workouts. While 13 hours of sweat, tears and toil for a five minute race, may not make much of an impression on you, consider the fact that all the members of the team simultaneously juggle academics, other extra curricular activities, as well as the expectations of (sometimes irate) parents.

But according to them, “It’s so worth it.” For the crew who religiously turn up for their practices every day, rowing offers many rewards. The largest of which are the kind of team spirit and commitment that every member of the 18-strong team learns. It’s obvious, even to the casual observer, that these girls share a strong bond. The fact that they spend so much of their time together, preparing for the next rowing event, means that they don’t really get much time for other things or for other people. This results in the team becoming something of a family, a social clique and rowing crew all rolled up into one.

“Losing is not an option!” If they had a team anthem, this would be it. After having spent hours practicing, the crew finds that when they are actually facing the last stretch of the race, they hold nothing back. Often they go beyond what anyone, including themselves, believed them capable of…draining their resources and leaving them exhausted by the finish line. Their weariness, fortunately, takes little away from the joy of winning. It’s interesting to note that the more taxing a race is, the more pleased they seem to be. Easy wins don’t challenge the team and they tend to remember races where they won by a mere second with more pride than others.

Commitment, perseverance and plain dogged determination are what take a new member through the first month of the excruciatingly demanding fitness routine. The team, however, claims that these workouts soon become “addictive” and assure me that (despite my suspicions), there are actually people who miss exercising. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal from exercise (for those of you who are still blissfully ignorant) are a distinct feeling of “lethargy” and “dissatisfaction” coupled with “feeling slow”.

Radhika Wikramanayaka, captain of the LCRT, will soon be experiencing all these symptoms first hand, when she abandons rowing to begin her preparations for her A/levels. Sayumi Jayasingha who is also in the same boat (literally) is the vice captain of the team. The two of them, according to their teammates are absolutely “essential to the team” as they have the exhausting task of co-ordinating all team activities and castigating all wayward members.

Often, especially before a competition, the captains sit the girls down for a talk in which the lines are drawn and boundaries made very clear, so that everyone knows what’s expected of them as a team. After all, as they both point out, “We are representing LC wherever we go.” While this isolates them and sets them apart from the team on occasion, everyone on the crew is quick to acknowledge their worth and emphasise how they soon realise that both captains are only making reasonable requests.

“Even if you were the best crew in the last race, there’s no guarantee you will win this one,” says Sayumi. Other voices pipe up with reasons such as “technical glitches” and “terrible weather” and “lack of practice”. The last addition seems strange to me, as this team appears to practice quite enough already. But apparently, if they really want to get places in rowing, they need to put in more practice, more exercise, more everything.

Women’s rowing in Sri Lanka is something of a new activity and hasn’t really picked up momentum yet, with only two of the Colombo schools participating. Musaeus College (MC), the only other school that boasts an all-girl crew, are LC’s rivals and until two years ago were the undisputed champions of the circuit. But while they are still really good, the LC crew have been the first to sail past the finish line in a series of recent events.

That doesn’t mean they don’t know what losing is like. In fact in their first three years of competing they seemed to lose consistently, with a few rare exceptions. But when the tide turned, it brought with it victory for the crew. They know that they are going to have to fight hard to maintain their hold on the number one spot. They seem so confident in their unity and skill, that I for one, don’t doubt they will.

Not present: Gayani Botejue - 16 yrs Position: stroke Experience: 3 yrs.


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