August 18th, 2011 | Sports

BOOLA BOOLA | Bulldogs Row in U23 World Championships

Members of the Yale heavyweight crew team have not been far from their oars this summer, notching up several successful results at both national and international level.

Three rowers competed at last month’s Under-23 World Rowing Championships – including incoming captain Tom Dethlefs’ 12, who took home gold in the United States men’s eight – and last year’s captain, Derek Johnson ’11, won a spot in the U.S. team bound for this month’s World Rowing Championships.

When Dethlefs assumed captaincy of the Bulldogs in June, he praised Johnson for “setting an example for the team” and promised to continue doing the same. Both of them 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 2000 m 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 2000 m on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J..

That result qualified him for a spot in the U.S. team, which heads to Bled, Slovenia, for the Aug. 28-Sept. 4 World Championships.

“Winning the chance to represent the USA is a big step for me and my boat mates,” said Blaise Didler, one of Johnson’s boat mates, in an statement. “This race is a stepping stone to the Olympic Games next year in London.”

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 was comprised entirely of rowers studying abroad at U.S. colleges.

The unusual arrangement came about as part of an “obvious change” made to the selection process, according to Andrew Matheson, Rowing Australia’s National High Performance Director.

“We’ve just been losing too many of our best athletes over the years to the United States and we had to find a way to keep them as part of our national program,” he said in a press release. “This way we get the best of both worlds.”

The Australian coxed four boat failed to qualify for the A final after finishing third in the July 22 repechage to trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand. Still, the next day it beat out crews from Italy and The Netherlands to win the B final.

Back at Yale, the heavyweight crew team will kick off its season in October with the Head of the Housatonic, an event the first varsity boat won victory at last year.