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The Final Race
"Lane 1...South Hatton...Lane two...West Potomac...” the referee announces. Tension builds on a warm, spring regatta day at the Occoquan River as the race is about to begin. The teams are called as all six boats anxiously wait at the starting line.
"Lane three...Wakefield...lane four...St. Dominic..." You begin to fidget in your seat as your hands become slippery with sweat, making it difficult to keep a-hold of the oar.
"Lane five...Hilton...” You're boat is about to be called.
"Lane six...Loyola." You sit nervously at the catch. All winter training has prepared you for this moment. You are ready.
"This will be a countdown start", the referee announces.
"Five...” You adjust yourself in your seat.
"Four...” Your coxon yells from the bow, "Sit ready!”
"Three...” You want to look at the boats around you, but remain completely focused on the race, shoving any other thoughts out of your head.
"Two...” You will win this race. You will give it all.
"One...” This is it. The flag the referee is holding comes down.
"GO!" he yells. WHOOSH! You push with your legs as the boat lunges forward. All around there is splashing and commotion as other coxons scream at their own boats. But you have to focus. This is your race. You shut all other noises away and look forward, as the coxon steers the boat along the course.
"We're gaining on West Potomac!” the coxon shouts, "Gimme a power ten! ONE!” The boat lunges underneath you as you deliver all the power your body is capable of through the legs.
"TWO!” Your body is screaming in pain.
"THREE!” Your lungs ache from lack of oxygen.
"FOUR! GIMME THREE SEAT!” At this point your legs are on fire. But you must push on.
"FIVE! YOU"RE MOVING!” Your body wants to quit but you remain focused. You trust everyone in the boat will do the same.
"SIX!” You feel each thrust of power as the boat glides across the water.
"SEVEN!” The oar locks make a constant click after every stroke.
"EIGHT!” All eight blades drive through the murky water with a constant rhythm. A rhythm that brings speed.
"NINE!” You become the rhythm. You are part of the boat. You sense the speed as power pushes through your legs, up your arms, across the oar shaft, past the blade, and into the water.
"TEN!” You have finished the power ten, but you must not quit. Your body forces back all pain and somehow finds the strength to continue pulling on the oar.
"We're coming to the sprint," the coxon says. "Let's finish this race guys. Sprint in two...one...TWO!” The rhythm of the boat increases. Each stroke getting faster and faster. The stroke rating is now at its highest. You feel immense suffering, but you realize the race will be over soon.
"WAKEFIELD IS NECK AND NECK WITH US! PUSH!” You're aware of Wakefield, one of the top crews, to your right, but you force yourself not to look. You stay focused and leave nothing on the course. The coxon gives the confidence your boat needs at this moment, screaming through the speakers to push with the legs.
"100 METERS TO GO! LEGS...SEND!” You continue to give it your all.
"LEGS...SEND!" Suddenly, there is silence. The coxon stops shouting. All eight rowers stop. The boat glides across the finish line. The race is over. You have done it. You bend over panting for oxygen, but then you realize you won the race! Everyone in the boat raises their hands and yells with excitement. Other boats cross the finish line and you recognize how far ahead your boat was. This is the best feeling. Finally defeating the famous Wakefield, and knowing that your boat moved as one. Eight rowers move together as one boat. This is crew. This is what it's like to be a rower.