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UCLA rowing turns to team culture to rebound after falling to USC in season opener

The UCLA team rows on foggy Saturday morning. Despite a narrow loss to their crosstown rivals last year, the Bruins dropped all but one race to lose their season-opening regatta 7-0. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

By Lamar Tuker

March 12, 2023 1:26 p.m.

Despite a loss to their crosstown rival to kick off the season, the Bruins are focusing on camaraderie to turn their season around.

UCLA rowing (0-1) took on USC (1-0) in a dual regatta at the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday morning. While last year the Bruins dropped the matchup by a .5 margin, this year the Trojans took the victory with a 7-0 showing.

The race kicked off with UCLA’s varsity eight boat, which finished at 6:41.71, five seconds after USC’s boat which finished at 6:36.90. Meanwhile the Bruins’ second varsity eight crew completed with a final time of 7:02.99 in comparison to its crosstown rival’s final time of 6:49.89.

Coach Previn Chandraratna said the team needs to work on all aspects to improve.

“It’s a good, young, strong group, and they’re still developing,” Chandraratna said. “We’re working on our technique. We’re working on our fitness, and you just got to take it one step at a time.”

Senior coxswain Clara Kennedy said the team has been focusing on its rhythm and speed.

“We want to row a really powerful stroke that has a lot of run to it, and so we’ve been focusing on catches and the rhythm of the boat a lot this week,” Kennedy said.

The second varsity four secured the only win of the day for the Bruins, with the Trojans trailing nearly 15 seconds after.

Chandraratna said the blue and gold’s momentum began to fade in the latter half of the first race.

“We were very competitive early in the race, and then it started to fade a little bit in the second thousand,” said Chandraratna. “So that’s something that we’re going to explore for sure.”

Less than seven seconds behind USC’s 7:38.70, UCLA’s varsity four crew posted a final time of 7:45.00. Similarly, the blue and gold’s third varsity eight crew notched a score of 7:05.60 and crossed the finish line six seconds behind USC’s 6:59.60.

Despite lost races piling up, the Bruins held steadfast in their support for each other, according to Kennedy.

“The camaraderie on this team is one of our really strongest points,” Kennedy said. “We’re really excited for any boat that does well, and we boost each other up. We’re always all looking to get better, and we know that we attack it as a team, and no one is doing anything alone in this team.”

Both junior starboard Makayla Roberts and Kennedy took part in the team’s win against Loyola Marymount in April.

Roberts added that the team is able to maintain high spirits during stressful times because of its weekly kudos.

“We give each other little compliments that really elevate the spirit,” said Roberts. “We review the week by saying what went well and how everyone was focused and the teamwork that went into progress.”

With their season now underway, the Bruins will next prepare for the San Diego Crew Classic, set to run April 1-2.

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