PHILADELPHIA - University of Pennsylvania lightweights freshman Jake Ford spent his winter break training for, and setting, two indoor rowing world records. Ford now owns the under-19 men's lightweight 5,000-meter and 30-minute world records.
Ford broke a 13-year-old world record in the 5,000 meters on Jan. 9 inside Penn's brand new Ted A. Nash Land Based Rowing Center. The Warrington, Pa., native finished in 16:47.6 to become the first man in his category to ever break 17 minutes in the event. The previous record of 17:01.1 had been held by a Bulgarian since 2001.
On Jan. 5, prior to returning to Penn, Ford initially set the 30-minute American record with a distance of 8,424 meters which beat the old record by 185 meters. But Ford topped that effort and set the world record on Jan. 20 when he completed 8,738 meters in 30 minutes at Penn's state-of-the-art facility.
"It's always exciting to have an athlete that is performing at a national and world level on your team," said lightweights assistant coach Colin Farrell. "We knew that Jake had some serious ability coming out of high school, but he's responded well to the training here and the Penn environment. We're definitely excited about Jake's accomplishments and I know that Jake's teammates are as well."
And Ford was eager to credit his teammates for his world record success. "The great part about rowing is it really defines the classic team sport," he said. "I have phenomenal teammates behind me. They're all great guys. We all get along great both on-and-off the water, and in-and-out of practice. They push me harder than I can imagine each and every day."
Ford and the Penn lightweights will begin the 2014 spring season on March 29. The Quakers open on the Schuylkill River with a dual against Mercyhurst.