PHILADELPHIA – On September 6, the 10 seniors on the men’s heavyweight rowing team successfully completed the Ted A. Nash Challenge – the third year in a row that the graduating members of the team finished the arduous task.
The challenge, named after Penn’s former head rowing coach, is a 66-mile row to be completed in one day. The eight rowers and two coxswains (who switched halfway through) completed the challenge in 10 hours and 15 minutes. The Class of 2011 members who took part include Nicholas Barnes, Daniel Morrison, Daniel Morson, Michael Rizzo, Piervincenzo Russo, Lawrence Tanzman, Matthew Van Voorhis, Nicholas Whitehead, Russell Windsor and Halley Sloane.
To put into perspective what the task entails, a normal rowing practice consists of no more than 10-12 miles of rowing. This group went over five times that distance in a single day, although some stopping was required – both scheduled and unscheduled.
Shortly after the start, the boat collided with a log floating in the Schuykill River, damaging the rudder. Once ashore, the team set about replacing the damaged part only to find that the regular repairman was not at the boathouse. Rather than give up the effort, the seniors completed the switch themselves and continued on.
“This was the most fun with my friends that I never want to have again,” Russo said. “The bonding we did was amazing and we are all proud to continue this tradition.”
The origination of the Ted A. Nash Challenge dates back to Nash’s own collegiate days when he rowed 53 miles in a single scull. He offers the challenge to rowers at Penn where coached and at the University of Washington and Boston University where he competed as a collegian.
Nash’s association with the sport of rowing and the city of Philadelphia is one of the most decorated in American history. He was head coach at Penn for 16 years, guiding the men’s squad and founding the women’s program. A gold medalist in the men’s coxless fours at the 1960 Olympics and a silver medalist in the same event in 1964, Nash is the only American to have participated in 11 Olympics as either a participant or coach. In 2008, he was part of the coaching staff at the Beijing Olympics where Penn alumna Sussan Francia won a gold medal.
The heavyweights are back in the water for live competition Oct. 2 when they begin their 2010 fall season at the Poughkeepsie Regatta.