“[There’s] a desire not to let your team down,” Fonseca said. “[Preparing for weigh-ins] is something you have to do because obviously you don’t want to be the only person to not make weigh-in, and then you let your whole boat down…. Sometimes it’s stressful if you have a lot of weight to lose, but I don’t think it’s something we’re afraid [to do].”
For men’s lightweight crew, the need to ‘average’—each boat must average 155 pounds a man—only places more emphasis on the unity of each eight-man boat, transforming weigh-ins into a collective effort.
Heron said that each boat member weighs himself daily, deciding upon a goal weight that he feels capable of hitting. This process enables some rowers to exceed the 155 mark, while letting others who are naturally smaller remain below.
“It’s a give and take just depending on how everyone is doing every week,” Heron said. “You end up being very conscious of where your body is. So in the process of losing weight it’s not like a couple big guys have to lose a ton and the small guys don’t need to do anything, we all help each other out.”
“It ends up that everyone’s losing about the same proportional amount of weight, so it’s a shared burden,” he added.
Neither of the lightweight coaches could be reached for comment.
While it might take place on the mats instead of on the river, wrestling, too, requires its participants to have a weigh-in prior to competition.
Sophomore Nick J. Stager, who wrestled in the 149-pound weight class this past season, spent last summer bulking up through both weightlifting and eating, trying to get as big as possible. The end result was that he approached the 170-pound mark in August, with the expectation that in September he would shed the added-weight and make the 149-pound weight class.
“My idea was to get as big as possible first, because it’s really hard to put on muscle when you’re starving yourself or when you’re close to starving yourself,” Stager said. “You have to expand before you can contract.”
In the week prior to a weigh-in, Stager would walk around anywhere from 155 to 159 pounds, needing to lose up to ten pounds in the days preceding the competition. For the final 24 hours before a meet, Stager would limit both his liquid and nutrient intake, eating only a sandwich for lunch that day if he considered his weight “good.” His dinner that night would be contingent on how he performed at practice in the afternoon.
On the morning of the competition, he would have just two pounds left to lose. After wearing added sweatpants and sweatshirts to induced increased perspiration during a morning-of practice, Stager would typically weigh in at 148.8, about 10 pounds less than his Monday mark.
“You never want to make the battle about making weight, because you want the battle to be the competition,” Stager said. “The competition isn’t making weight, but that’s a prerequisite.”
While cutting weight on a weekly basis might be the norm for his sport, Stager sees a wrestler’s choice of weight class as a potentially problematic situation—one in which too large of a weight drop could have related health complications.
“There are some people that may try to reach weight classes that aren’t optimal, that are unhealthy for them to wrestle at,” Stager said. “I have seen people, especially in high school, but even here, get injured…. When your body is depleted, when it doesn’t have the nutrition that it needs, injuries are more likely.”