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New World Record, Intense Competition Mark 30th Anniversary MidAtlantic Erg Sprints, January 31

by Patricia Scroggs; Photos: Power Ten Photography | Feb 06, 2015
A new world record in the half marathon by Olympic gold medalist Esther Lofgren capped an exciting day of competition at the 2015 MidAtlantic Erg Sprints, hosted by TC Williams High School on January 31. Over 1,700 athletes from 130 teams in 14 states competed. The McLean High School Crew Club earned the Top High School Rowing Team and Top Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Team honors.

Former Alexandria Crew Boosters President Dan Shipp, accompanied by top U.S. rowers Esther Lofgren and Yohann Rigogne, commemorate the 30th anniversary of the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints in TC Williams High School on January 31.  Esther Lofgren, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, shattered the world record for the half marathon, posting a time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 12 seconds, beating a 2003 record by three minutes. (Courtesy:  Power Ten Photography)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A new world record in the half marathon by Olympic gold medalist Esther Lofgren capped an exciting day of competition at the 2015 MidAtlantic Erg Sprints, hosted by TC Williams High School on January 31. Over 1,700 athletes from 130 teams in 14 states competed. The McLean High School Crew Club earned the Top High School Rowing Team and Top Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Team honors. During the event, the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints celebrated its 30th anniversary in Alexandria, growing from a handful of competitors in 1986 to become the world’s second largest indoor rowing competition and the largest high school indoor rowing event. Enthusiastic rowers, ranging from Olympic athletes to novices, from ages 5 to 87, competed in over 100 events.

During the event, Esther Lofgren, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and eight-time member of the U.S. National Rowing Team, shattered the world record for the half marathon, posting a time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 12 seconds, beating a 2003 record by three minutes. Alexandria Crew Boosters (ACB) President Stephen Scroggs stated, “It was incredibly exciting to see Esther compete, and her world-record performance inspired all the participants. We also appreciated her support for the rowing community, including speaking at a seminar on rowing in college, taking photos with young athletes, and participating in the 30th anniversary celebration.” MidAtlantic Erg Sprints Director Jeff Byron added, “This record drives home that the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints has become one of the preeminent events of its kind in the world.”

Olympic rower Sam Stitt also competed, dominating in the Open Men’s 30 Minute Row, covering 8,955 meters in 30 minutes. Two-time Olympian and Georgetown University Varsity coach Guiseppe Lanzone, together with Lofgren and a panel of top coaches and athletes, gave a seminar on rowing in college and beyond for young rowers and their families.

The 2015 MidAtlantic Erg Sprints presented medals to individuals and trophies for consolidated team performances. This year, McLean High School Crew Club won the trophy for the Top High School Rowing Team, as well as the Top Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Team. MedStar NRH Paralympic Sport Club dominated the Top Fitness Club Team category. Bishop-Ireton High School Rowing Team and Walt Whitman High School Crew tied for first place for the Top Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Rowing Association Team. Great Bridge High School grabbed the Top Eastern Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Team honors, and Annapolis Junior Rowing Association excelled as the Top Baltimore-Annapolis Junior Rowing Team.

Top finishers in the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints qualified to compete in the World Indoor Rowing Championship – also known as the Crash-B Sprints – which will be held at Boston University's Agganis Arena on March 1. For 2015, qualifiers included Terry Walters of the Washington Rowing Club who won the Veteran B (Age 55-59) Women’s 2,000 meter race with a time of 7:48.7; Paul Siebach of the Northern Virginia Rowing Club who clenched the Veteran B (age 55-59) Men’s 2000M race with a time of 6:43.5; Lynda del Castillo of the Potomac Boat Club, who won the Veteran C (age 60-64) Women’s 2000M with a time of 8:22.3; and William Brownlee of the St. Andrew’s Alumni Rowing, who captured top honors in the Veteran G+ (age 80+) Men’s 2000M race with a time of 8:58.8.

Other stars of the day were the adaptive rowers. Their competitions were intense, with some possible future Paralympic competitors scoring strong performances. Dammy Onafeko of the Capital Rowing Club powered to an impressive victory in the Adaptive Physically Disabled (Legs/Trunk/Arms) category. Rowers from Athletes Without Limits, MedStar NRH Paralympic Sports Club, and Capital Adaptive Rowing Program participated. Tom Darling, Director of Para-Rowing at USRowing, introduced the program and participants. Tom, a rower himself, handily won his category again this year, following up on his world record-breaking performance at the 2014 MidAtlantic Erg Sprints. Eighty-seven-year old rower William Brownlee, the oldest competitor, proved that you are never too old to excel, winning his event.

In a short ceremony mid-day, organizers commemorated the 30th anniversary of the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints, which has been held at TC Williams every year since January 1986. Past ACB presidents Paul Bea and Dan Shipp, along with former TC crew coach Mike Penn, recounted the history of the event, which started in the TC gymnasium with a handful of competitors as a way to motivate rowers to stay in shape during the off-season. The original bicycle-wheel erg rowing machine used during that event, on display for the ceremony, was a reminder of how far the sport has come. The ceremony highlighted the contributions of the many coaches who coax top performances out of their athletes. It included top U.S. national rowers Esther Lofgren and Yohann Rigogne who threw T-shirts to participants.

ACB President Scroggs stated, “Taking a few moments to commemorate the past thirty years of the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints highlights how far the event has come, becoming the second largest indoor rowing competition in the world and the largest for high school rowers. Instead of a handful of local athletes, this year’s competition featured 2,000 entries from 1,700 athletes associated with 130 teams in 14 states and DC.”

The MidAtlantic Erg Sprints were hosted by the Alexandria Crew Boosters, the Alexandria City Public Schools, and TC Williams High School in Alexandria. High schools with the largest participation were Yorktown, Robinson, TC Williams, Walt Whitman, Woodrow Wilson, McLean, Bishop O’Connell, Gonzaga, Washington Lee, and Oakton. Universities represented included Liberty, George Mason, Mary Washington, and Catholic.
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