High Performance Group

Riverside Boat Club Sends Five Athletes to the World Championship

Written by: Annalise Routenberg

Kevin Meador

Kevin Meador

Five Riverside athletes will compete on two weeks at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Jillian Zieff and Jen Sager will race a lightweight women’s pair; Kevin Meador will represent the United States for the men’s single; and Hillary Saeger and Sam Hausmann will race in the women’s and men’s lightweight quads. All five athletes qualified for their spot on the national team 2018 roster at the U.S. Senior and Para Trials II in early August.

Jillian Zieff in stroke and Jen Sager in bow.

Jillian Zieff in stroke and Jen Sager in bow.

Sager and Zieff have been best friend and training partners for six years, since they first started rowing together at Trinity College. That relationship continued through last year’s World Championship, where they raced for Team U.S.A in the lightweight women’s quad.

This year, they won their qualifying final with a time of 7:28.11, well ahead of Vesper’s second place 7:36.75

They say this year’s win is a culmination of years of hard work.

“It’s been truly inspiring to be supported and pushed by the entire boathouse,” says Zieff. “It’s been giving us confidence and I think it shows in our performance at Trials.”

Keavin Meador took an unconventional route to racing the men’s single. Before winning his event to qualify for World’s, Meador raced in the fall of 2017 with the men’s sweeps team and won the club 8+ event at the Head of the Charles. Meador only began full-time training for single’s events this past year.

Following the National Selection Regatta and an injury that took him off the water for six weeks, Meador returned to the single two weeks out from Trials. Despite the fact that this was only his second sprint-race in a single, he won his time trial, his heat and came in second place in the semi-final.

Meador then won his final to qualify for Worlds at 7:02.59, more than a full second ahead of Malta Boat Club in second, and five seconds ahead of Vesper in third.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to race internationally,” he says. “I hope to do every possible thing in my power to make Riverside proud.”

Hillary Saegaer

Hillary Saegaer

In the men’s and women’s lightweight quads, Sam Hausmann and Hillary Saegaer raced composite entries at Trials with fellow lightweight national team hopefuls. Saeger has been training in a quad here in Cambridge for what will be her seventh World Championship appearance; she has already medaled three times. Hausmann has been training for his event in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Both quads were uncontested at Trials, but had to meet a time standard to qualify for Worlds. The lightweight women’s quad finished at 6:42.51, and the lightweight men’s quad came through the line at 6:11.61.

RBC is Heating UP

By: Rachel Pettis

USRowing NE/Mid-Atlantic Masters Championships – Women’s 4x: Angelique Hrycko, Meghan Brundage, Erin Lallemand (MRRA) and Kit Casey.

USRowing NE/Mid-Atlantic Masters Championships – Women’s 4x: Angelique Hrycko, Meghan Brundage, Erin Lallemand (MRRA) and Kit Casey.

After a rather drawn out extension of winter, otherwise known as spring, the summer season has finally arrived!  Despite the slow return to the water, Riverside is already heating up the season with fast results.   RBC opened the racing season at the NE/Midatlantic Masters Championships on Saturday, June 28th.  The Masters Mens Sweeps finished 2nd in the 8, AA-C 4+, and F-J 4+.  An RBC/MRRA composite 4x containing Angelique Hrycko, Kit Casey and Meghan Brundage left competitors in their wake as they cruised across the finish line in 1st by a lengthy margin.  Paul Dale also took home a gold medal in the Mens Masters Ltwt E-J 1x, a silver in the Mens Masters E-F 1x and John Yasaitis grabbed silver in the Mens Masters G-J 1x.  

The following Sunday at Festival Regatta RBC fared extremely well in both sweep and sculling events.  Paul Dale and John Tracey both placed 2nd in the Mens Masters 1x as did Meghan Brundage in the Womens Masters 1x.  Joe Hanna took home 1st in the Mens Open 1x and following his lead Men’s Sweeps placed 1st in both Open 4+ races.  Mens Sweeps also placed 1st,  2nd and 3rd in the Open 2- and then finished out the day with 1st and 2nd place in the Open 8.  

A  small contingent of RBC’s HPG competed at Elite Nationals on Lake Mercer, NJ.  After a fierce showing in heats and reps two Womens 2xs narrowly missed making the grand final but left the course satisfied with their efforts and knowledge gained from various unexpected regatta snags throughout the week.  On a lighter note Mary Foster’s RBC/Vesper composite in the Womens Lightweight 2x and 4x walked away with medals proving that keeping your enemies close does indeed have its rewards.  

Mary Foster’s RBC/Vesper composite in the Womens Lightweight 2x and 4x walked away with medals proving that keeping your enemies close does indeed have its rewards.

Over the recent holiday weekend Riverside competed at Independence Day Regatta with temperatures and fast crews blazing the Schuylkill.  In addition to the warm weather wind speeds were less than favorable ensuring that all boats had their work cut out for them.  Representing the Master Women, Meghan Brundage competed in a composite mixed 2x placing 3rd and then later in a composite Womens Open 4x and Womens Intermediate 4x placing 1st and 3rd respectively.  Nik Kurmakov raced Sunday in the Masters Mens 1x dash and though sporting a very swollen, slightly broken ankle cruised over the finish line with a win.  

Riverside Men’s Lightweight 8+

Riverside Men’s Lightweight 8+

Mens and Womens Sweeps each raced well taking on rival clubs such as Vesper and Penn AC.  Saturday the women placed 3rd, 4th and 6th in the Open 4+ with Vesper coming in 2nd by a mere .8 seconds.  The men finished 3rd in the Open 2-, 2nd in the Intermediate 4+, and finished off the day with gold in the Intermediate Lightweight 8.  Sunday was another successful day for both teams as the women finished 4th and 5th in the Intermediate 4+ and 2nd in the Intermediate 8.  The men finished 2nd in the Intermediate Lightweight 4+ and 5th in the Intermediate 8, Senior 8 and Intermediate 2-.  

The HPG also entered several boats and on Saturday placed 2nd and 4th in the Women’s Intermediate 2x.  Racing in an extremely competitive field Chloe Zwiacher finished 6th in the Women’s 1x and Erin Roberts won the Lightweight Women’s 1x several lengths ahead of the other boats.  On Sunday Sarah Olenich started the day off nicely with a 2nd place finish in the Intermediate 1x.  Later on in the Womens 4x a sharp crew of RBC ladies had the chance to race a Vesper crew containing RBC Alum Hillary Saegar and placed 3rd ahead of Ottawa.

At the end of the weekend all crews left the Schuylkill sun-kissed and tired but thrilled to have had the chance to rep their stripes in a pool of worthwhile competitors.  No doubt about it that all teams look forward to seeing rival crews again in a few short weeks at Royal Canadian Henley.  Train hard RBC!

USRowing Senior World Championship Trials I

By: Peter Schmidt

Lafferty, Georgeson, Schmidt, Neils

Lafferty, Georgeson, Schmidt, Neils

It was a momentous three days of racing at Senior Trials I for the men’s and women’s high performance group. Four Riverside entries competed over three events: the lightweight women’s and men’s single and the lightweight quad.

Racing began Monday morning with the lightweight single. First to race were Joan Buck and Laurissa Gulich. With the top two finishers progressing to the semifinals and the rest going to repechage in the afternoon, the pressure was on to only race once that day. Joan was first to race and placed second in her heat with 8:22.59, 7 seconds behind Nicole Dinion of OKC Riversports who won the heat with 8:15.81. Both progressed to the semifinals on Tuesday morning. Laurissa Gulich placed 3rd in Heat 2 requiring her to race again that afternoon in order to progress. She then won her rep with a time of 8:26.5 advancing her to the semifinal.

Tobin McGee was next to race in the men’s lightweight single. With the top finisher from each heat going to the final and the rest going to reps the following morning Tobin had his work cut out for him, especially having Andrew Campbell in his heat. Tobin finished 3rd with a time of 7:31.7, behind Peter Alter from Vesper and Andrew Campbell, who won the heat with a time of 7:03.6.

Tuesday was a tough day of racing for the Riverside lightweight singles. Laurissa and Joan were first to race and needed to place second or better in their semifinals in order to advance to the final. Unfortunately both were knocked out of the competition. Tobin was next to race that morning and faced the tougher task of winning his rep in order to gain a spot in the four-boat final the next morning. With a stiff crosswind on the course, Tobin jumped off the line and settled into a solid rhythm.  Keeping his line straight down the course he set his sights on chasing down Colin Ethridge of Malta. Tobin took a move at the third 500 shortening the gap and began his sprint with 300 meters to go. Unfortunately Tobin ran out of race course and finished 2 seconds behind Colin.  Both scullers are entered to race at Elite Nationals following the conclusion of Trials. Hopefully there will be a rematch in the near future.

On the final day of Trials the only boat left to race was the men’s lightweight quad (Kyle Lafferty, Jake Georgeson, Peter Schmidt, Bow: Andrew Neils). With USRowing altering the selection procedure and no race to determine lanes the previous Monday morning the quad needed to row only one piece to earn their seats on the national team.  Despite several jittery rows in the days leading up to the final, when the quad shoved away from the dock all jitters and nerves were gone.  All eyes were set on the goal in front of them. Even after receiving a warning for arriving late to the line the quad remained calm and when the race started any remaining nerves were instantly forgotten, replaced with that familiar burning sensation in the legs that only a 2k can produce.

Malta was quick off the line and held with the Riverside/GRP quad through the first 250 but RBC quickly jumped out to a length lead 500m into the race.  At 750m in, RBC took their first move and broke open water on the Malta quad. Their lead continued as the race progressed and coming into the last 500, Riverside had over a length of open water. Victory was clear as Riverside crossed the line with a time of 6:08.68 seconds, 6 seconds ahead of the Malta quad. After talking as a boat for roughly 2 seconds, they agreed to declare their intent to go to Worlds and proceeded to the dock to weigh the boat, submit to a drug test and fill out the necessary paperwork

Their lead continued as the race progressed and coming into the last 500, Riverside had over a length of open water.

All in all it was a solid three days of racing for Riverside’s high performance group ending with great results and new resolve to continue pursuing that faster time.

Wearing RBC Blue Stripes Can Lead to Stars and Stripe

By Ed Moran


Lauren Schmetterling was clear about her goals when she met with U.S. women’s national team coach, Tom Terhaar.

She told him she wanted to row on the national team and was intent on making it. She had the power and the desire, but Terhaar thought she wasn’t quite ready. She needed work on her technique.

So Terhaar’s suggestion was to move to Boston, join the Riverside Boat Club and start working with head coach Tom Keister. “I’ve made that suggestion to a number of women,” Terhaar said last week. “Tom’s been great for us. They are not afraid to do the work. They erg and they get fit and they get better. It’s a lot easier to fit a new athlete in when they are fit. And they get fit at Riverside.”

Schmetterling followed the advice and trained and developed at Riverside for 22 months, earning her an invitation to the Princeton Training Center in November 2012

For Schmetterling, who won a gold medal at last summer’s world championships in the eight, and a number of notable athletes who row for, or have rowed for, the U.S. women’s team, Riverside was a place that helped make their international careers possible.

Some of the athletes include Olympians Natalie Dell, and Meghan Musnicki, Emily Huelskamp, who won gold in the four last summer in South Korea and four-time national team lightweight Hillary Saeger, who has two world championship bronze medals and one silver rowing in the lightweight women’s quad.

Last week, Saeger was again in the lightweight women’s quad that won senior trials along with the RBC men’s lightweight quad of Andrew Neils, Peter Schmidt, Jacob Georgeson and Kyle Lafferty. They won their senior trials event and now all five RBC athletes will race at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in August.

In addition, Schmetterling, who won another gold medal in the eight at the recent World Cup II at Lake Aiguebelette in France, and Huelskamp are in the mix for the coming world championships.

Talk to any of the women on the U.S. squad who have rowed at RBC, and they will tell say without question that their time at RBC is a big reason they have gotten to where they are.

“Rowing there was absolutely amazing,” Schmetterling said. “Tom Keister will do anything to make sure his athletes succeed and he will take them as far as they want to go. He would stay out with me on the water in my single until he was sure that I was accomplishing what he wanted me to accomplish.”

Musnicki, who also won another international gold on Lake Aiguebelette, remembers her time at RBC as life changing.

“Training at Riverside taught me many different things,” Musnicki said.  “For starters, it forced me to be more independent and reinforced the idea that you are responsible for yourself. Being a part of a club means that you have to make sure your boat gets to the race, you have to make sure your oars get to the race, and you have to know when your race is.”

She said that was not her experience rowing in college where she would get on a bus, be driven to the race, get off the bus and the equipment would “magically appear.” But she also said that while she had to develop an independent mindset, there was plenty of support at RBC.

“It’s like joining a huge family. If you need something or don’t know something, or want help with something, I knew all I had to do was send out a blast to the RBC list serve and within ten minutes my inbox would be flooded with responses.”

And, like Schmetterling, Musnicki credits the coaching she got at the club.

“As far as the coaching staff goes, I feel incredibly lucky to have trained under Tom Keister. Day in and day out he provided me with anything and everything I could need to attempt to advance my skills in small boats.

“I came to him pretty green in the small boat department so he definitely had his work cut out for him, but he kept at it and if it weren’t for him I definitely would not have gotten the invitation to go try out and train at the Princeton Training Center.

“He kicked my butt into shape, getting me physically ready for the training load at the center, and on top of that seemed undeterred in his attempts to round out some of the many rough edges I had in the single and double,” she said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that my journey to the national team began at RBC.  I will forever be thankful for my time there and will always cherish my stripes!”

Results: 2013 Canadian Henley

By Rachel Pettis

There’s just no ending the summer without the highly anticipated Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. Across the board RBC had quite a successful week with multiple crews leaving St. Catharines wearing some pretty hardware. The conditions on Henley Island grew more and more favorable each day and by Sunday treated the crews to nearly flat water and sunny skies. To start off the week, the Master’s Men’s 8+ won gold as did Nik Kurmakov in the Master’s 1x. Both Men’s Masters 4+ finished 2nd overall.

Lauren Ayers took home gold in the Senior Women’s Lightweight 1x, arguably one of them most competitive events of the week. Finishing just ahead of Vesper after a mean sprint, Lauren’s victory was as exciting as it was deserved. Mike Farry placed second in the Senior Men’s Lightweight 1x in another extremely competitive final. Men’s and Women’s Sweeps also fared well against rival and Canadian clubs alike.

The Senior Men’s 8+ finished sixth overall and the Women’s 8+ Dash took home second. The Women’s Senior 2- finished third and in an extremely close race RBC took home third and fourth in the Women’s U23 2-. The Senior Women’s Lightweight 4- took home 4th overall but was the first American crew to cross the line. According to a spectator in the Port Dalhousie grandstand this particular race was one of the most exciting due to some questionable steering. After multiple crabs and collisions in the last 250 meters, several of the Canadian crews crossed the finish line in the entirely wrong lane. Riverside also competed in the Dash for Cash with a mixed 8 winning gold as well as some swanky Regatta Sports gear. Tired but satisfied RBC left Saint Catharines feeling like Olympians…well not exactly but Border Patrol seemed convinced enough.

Andrew Hashway and 2012 World Championships

Andrew Hashway strikes a pose.

Andrew Hashway strikes a pose.

Tell us, how did you get started in rowing?
I started rowing my freshman year at Saint John’s high school in Shrewsbury, MA; one of my friend’s parents thought it would be nice for all of the kids from our town to participate in the same sport. Seeing as no one really has any prior experience with rowing before high school, it was a level playing field for us all. I also knew that I was not a superstar on my baseball or football teams, so I figured why not. I do remember that one thing I was not happy about was that fact that I had to wear spandex to participate… oh how times have changed!

When did you join Riverside?
I joined Riverside in the summer of 2007, partially due to a strong suggestion from Will Allen. He had rowed with me at college and knew my personality and drive and said that if I took a year off to do the backpacking trip I had planned to do in Asia, I would fall behind. So I decided I loved rowing enough to continue at a higher level, thus Riverside was the place to be, especially considering that same year the Senior World’s Lightweight Men’s Eight had been developed and qualified from Riverside, I felt that it was a good decision.

Tell us a little bit about the qualification process for World Championships.
For this year’s Senior Lightweight 8, our coach (and CRI Director), Bruce Smith employed two major tools to determine seat racing. The first is the PowerView, which is a fabulous tool that is even used in NASCAR and it can measure almost any little movement from the acceleration of the boat on the drive and recovery, to the amount of check that is produced just by getting the hands away faster or slower on the recovery. It is truly a miraculous tool. The second is the SmartOar, which is run by an RBC alum, Greg Ruckman. It was the main tool in deciding who made the boat. Essentially, it is a system that can measure the length of the stroke, the power curve created by the oarsman, the power produced as well as the stroke rate. By doing set distances and or timed pieces, Bruce and Devin, our assistant coach, were able to calculate the effectiveness of each oarsman at any given moment in the boat and then from there, choose the best-qualified rowers in the camp.

Once we handled the seat racing and internal selection process, we had to head to Princeton, NJ to race another lightweight men’s eight from Vesper, which was comprised of some rather talented rowers. Since there were only two entries, the first race was a race for lanes. We both went down the course head to head in order to determine which crew would be in the more “favorable” lane, as determined by the weather conditions on the day of the final. On the finals day, it was winner-takes-all and whoever crossed the line first, had earned the privilege to represent the United States at the 2012 Non Olympic World Championships. It goes without saying that I was very glad we had come out on top, but felt sad for a few of the guys in the Vesper eight, who I felt deserved a seat in our boat.

Tell us all about your experience in Plovdiv.
I arrived on a Sunday with the rest of my team, we flew from Logan International to Heathrow, England, then to Sofia, Bulgaria.

The course was rather nice, all man made and sort of surreal… I’ve seen the course from Worlds videos, but to be on the actual course felt weird. As the first day of the regatta came closer and closer, the course got crazier and crazier, I would liken it to the week leading up to the Head of the Charles. Every inch of that course was pulsating with elite rowers just trying to get their own workouts in as effectively as they could. It sort of felt like being home on the Charles when BU, MIT and Harvard all decide to take their entire fleets out at the same time. Lots of rough water and dodging oars and wakes.

In my off times I tried to unplug from rowing. I watched videos I had on my laptop, read a few articles about Bulgaria along with re-reading favorite parts of the book Assault on Lake Casitas, checked out what was going on in the States and of course, I slept like it was going out of style. My pre/post practices were spent plugged into my iTouch. I had all four of Dave Cooks comedic CD’s going, you just can never have too many funny jokes in a stressful situation. I also had some of my famous “angry” music to get me focused up before races. Anyone who has erged in the winter with me knows the style of music I enjoy getting ready to.

After races I did get to see parts of Plovdiv. I walked around some of the Roman ruins as well as some statues that were erected during the Soviet Union’s rule over the area. One particular statue was atop a massive hill which overlooked the vast mountain scape, quite picturesque.

What was the race progression for your event? Did you have any memorable moments during any particular race in Plovdiv?
There were two roads to the finals, the short way and the long way and we ended taking the latter. The long way involved a heat on the first day of the regatta. Since we placed 4th in that race, we had to race again the following day in the Reps for one last chance at the top six spots in the final. Sadly, we under-estimated some of the crews in our rep and we were relegated to the B Finals.

The most memorable moment for me was not that pleasant. Our four-seat, my roommate at the regatta, had come down with sun poisoning between the heats and reps, so we had to scramble for a replacement, since he was not going to be able to race. Luckily a US Junior coach keeps himself fit and thin enough to sweat down to max and hop in our boat. I can only imagine the amount of pressure he was under, knowing that he could be the deciding factor between us going to the A or B final. But no matter how much harassment he received from the other Junior coaches, warm-up through to post-race, he did something I would venture many others wouldn’t even have the gumption to try and he did it to the very best of his ability.

Hillary and Andrew

Hillary and Andrew

You’re a lightweight, we have to ask, what was your first post-race meal?
Ha, well for me, once I was deep into the lightweight life style, I forget how good the tastier things in life can be, so I wasn’t really craving anything post-race, but once I started eating outside my own pre-approved dietary needs, the flood gates opened up to the wonders of sugar. Once I finished my racing, the very first piece of food I ate was baklava from a local pastry department. After that, I sort of lost count of the devilish things I ate.

What future athletic endeavors are you looking forward to?
As proud of my accomplishments as I am (representing the United States), I feel that my job could have been done better. So this year I am going for it again! I am going to do a better job on the international circuit and better represent the US, Riverside, Marist, Saint John’s and my family.

Soon enough, I will be looking to transition from purely rowing to triathlons and competitive skate skiing. New sport, same amount of dedication