The dream isn't over for West Coast University’s crew team to represent the U.S at the 2016 Olympic Games, but they might need a bigger boat.
Sweep vs Sculling
Two oars — one in each hand — means you are a sculler. Athletes with only one oar are sweep rowers.
There are three sculling events: the single – 1x (one person), the double – 2x (two) and the quad – 4x (four).
Sweep rowers come in pairs with a coxswain (2+) and pairs without (2-), fours with a coxswain (4+) and fours without (4-) and the eight (8+), which always carries a coxswain.
Sarah Zelenka and Sara Hendershot had hoped to win the women’s pair at the National Selection Regatta this March, but by just making the finals the two had earned an invitation for the “big boat” Olympic selection camp.
Zelenka and Hendershot, who competed in the 2012 London Games as the U.S. pair, hit a buoy early in the race and were unable to recover.
“We’re disappointed by sixth. We were coming here to win,” Hendershot said. “Basically what this regatta did for us now is it puts us in a position to be in contention for Olympic selection and that will all be decided in the next two and a half months.”
The “big boat” Olympic selection camp will determine the women’s eight and the women's quad, but Hendershot said a lot of decisions are yet to be made regarding who will be wearing the red, white and blue in Rio.
"Olympics selection is a tricky road for sure and that’s what it was like last time," Hendershot said. "If you try to predict what’s going to happen for Olympic selection four years before, two years before, one year before, three months before, you will be wrong."
Despite their disappointing finish, the WCU-sponsored team said they were proud about how far they had come since the 2012 Games — especially due to the fact that they had done it independent of the traditional system.
"What we've done now — coming in the top sixth in the women's pair — it's the first time that anybody's done it from outside the training center and we showed that we are fast, that we are fit and that we can contend with the world's best, because these women are the world's best," Hendershot said. "West Coast University has been really big for us and we just want to take this opportunity to recognize how special and unbelievable it is to have an organization believe in you like that. And I hope that we did everybody at West Coast proud."