HEAVYWEIGHT CREW | Heavyweights Dethlefs ’12 and Johnson ’11 shine in Europe

The heavyweight crew team will not compete until Oct. 9 at the Head of the Housatonic regatta.
The heavyweight crew team will not compete until Oct. 9 at the Head of the Housatonic regatta. Photo by Carol Hsin.

There was little time away from the oars for some members of the heavyweight crew team over the summer, as they notched up several successful results at both the national and international level.

Three Yale rowers competed at last month’s Under-23 World Rowing Championships — including incoming captain Tom Dethlefs ’12, who took home gold with the United States men’s eight — while last year’s captain, Derek Johnson ’11, earned a spot in the U.S. team bound for the Aug. 28-Sept. 4 World Rowing Championships, and races in the final of his event today.

“Racing at U23s is a good way for guys to train and work on their rowing over the summer,” Dethlefs said, adding that the number of team members who participated at this level did not necessarily correlate with success in college racing.

Still, Johnson and Dethlefs, the latter of who promised to continue “setting an example” for the team when he assumed the captaincy of the Bulldogs in June, have certainly garnered significant results beyond Yale’s rowing program.

Dethlefs, who claimed a silver medal with U.S. the men’s eight at the Under-23 World Rowing Championships last year, did one better in the six seat of the same boat at this year’s competition in Amsterdam. The men’s eight zipped through the July 24 final in a time of 5.24.31, setting a new Under-23 world record over the 2,000-meter course on its way to claiming the title.

Meanwhile, Johnson, rowing with the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center, clinched victory in the men’s pair with coxswain event at the U.S. Senior Rowing Championships Trials. At the Aug. 4 race, his crew posted a winning time of 7.14.15 over 2,000 meters on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.

That result qualified him for a spot in the U.S. team, which began competition in Bled, Slovenia, on Sunday.

Racing in the European waters yesterday, his crew stormed into third place, advancing through to today’s final.

“We made it to the final,” said Blaise Didler, one of Johnson’s boat mates, in an statement. “The final is going to be a barn burner.”

The senior world championships are often seen as a “stepping stone” to the Olympic Games, which take place next year in London, he explained.

Also eyeing future international competition are the two other Yalies who competed at the Under-23 World Championships, Harry Picone ’13 and Owen Symington ’14. Both of them rowed for Australia in a coxed four boat that consisted entirely of rowers studying abroad at U.S. colleges.

These performances position the heavyweight crew team well for the upcoming season, Dethlefs said.

“All the components are in place to carry the momentum from the past season and this summer on into the fall,” he said.

His team will kick off its season in October with the Head of the Housatonic, an event the first varsity boat claimed victory at last year.

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