"...Something old, something new..." It's from a wedding I heard once, somewhere. Old and new--well, that's what we're talking about in the reading period assignment for the crew final. Not exactly something, but rather Someone.
On the old side, we're talking about Cynthia Strong, co-captain of the Radcliffe heavies and the old (or ex) stroke. In the new camp, we have Kathy Kirk, a third-year crew veteran and the new stroke for the 'Cliffe lights.
Old and new--experience and inexperience. At the stroke position--number eight seat, staring the cox in the face--the name of the game is to be comfortable, smooth and authoritative.
"At stroke you operate mostly by feel. You can't see anything, but you can feel everything," Strong says. "If you set your mind to a particular cadence, you have to go after it and hope the boat responds."
"I feel more responsible at stroke," Kirk explains. "I felt I could be more aggressive at another seat." But as stroke, Kirk has to set the cadence and establish the stroke length--she has to lead the pack.
Old and new--once a leader, now a follower. At six seat in the engine room of the boat, Strong has to respond to the new heavies' stroke, Therese Munoz. "The main thing I'm learning now is to pick up Therese's rhythm. I really like her swing. The boat has responded very well. She has a very good sense of rhythm, and I think it's a good change."
Old and new--a change brings new relationships. Kirk now has to develop a rapport with cox Susie Peterson. "Ultimately, the stroke relies on the cox, to tell her what position the boat's in. I set the ratio of the stroke; but Susie will tell the women about technical problems, and she calls most of the power tens."
"The boat has done well since the switch. But perhaps it's just the novelty of the switch," Strong says. "It may just be the way things work with one person sitting behind another."
Old and new--once a loser, now a winner.
Well, hold it a minute there. That last one's a bit extreme. It seems the Radcliffe crews are performing better since the changes, but the path of the future is not certain. Strong says she feels her position in the six seat stabilizes the boat somewhat, while Munoz's presence at stroke helps the overall rhythm.
Kirk, a port stroke, in contrast to Janice Nevins, who stroked from the starboard side, transforms the whole complexion of the eight, flipping all the riggings over to the other side.
But will the change be enough? In the old days, Radcliffe lost to the Yale heavies and the B.U. lights. In the new days... Well, everything else has changed, so why not.