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UCLA rowing emphasizes fluidity, team harmony at Big Ten Invitational

Members of UCLA rowing cheer on their team during a regatta. Coach Previn Chandraratna’s squad paddled to three wins during the Big Ten Invitational. (Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

By Chloe Agas

April 23, 2024 2:01 p.m.

This post was updated April 23 at 9:01 p.m.

Rowing can be viewed as a harmonious composition.

Musical notes combine to create a sweet-sounding pitch. Similarly, individual members of a crew must unite to keep the ship moving.

For senior Sydney Matas, fluidity is instrumental to her team’s tone.

“There is a bit of fluidity in terms of the rhythm we roll at,” the port/starboard said. “A hallmark of a good rower is adapting to variances of how people stroke the boat.”

Matas was a member of UCLA rowing’s third varsity eight crew that set the team’s tone – clinching two wins early, a fraction of the Bruins’ three total wins throughout the Big Ten Invitational. The team met with top-15 schools, including Clemson, Michigan State, Minnesota and Oklahoma in Sarasota, Florida, on Friday and Saturday.

After finishing first with the third varsity eight at times of 6:50.66 and 6:52.50 on Friday and Saturday, respectively, Matas competed with the varsity four crew Saturday morning, finishing second at 7:34.90.

Matas said the experience of racing with two different crews marshaled conspicuous room for growth.

“Four is much harder to set or keep balanced than an eight,” Matas said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity – it improves your overall stroke and tech as a rower.”

In an orchestra, various instruments coalesce to play a composition. And in rowing, a team’s crews individually contribute to the overall performance at a regatta.

The Bruins’ second varsity eight also contributed to the team’s overall tally, crossing the finish line first at 6:40.98 on Saturday morning – an improvement from Friday’s race results at 6:45.88 and 6:50.05 in the morning and afternoon sessions, respectively.

Sophomore starboard Danielle DeFrancisci said learning to sync technique with various lineups improves tempo and rhythm in stroke.

“You have to adapt your stroke to whoever is stroke seat of the boat,” DeFrancisci said. “The biggest key to improving technically within a new lineup is to buy into your strokes with rhythm and technique.”

UCLA has carved in 10 wins this season with this past weekend’s events. Once a musical number ends, the beginning of another keeps the orchestra going.

Coach Previn Chandraratna said the regatta proved progressive.

“The regatta was a step forward,” Chandraratna said. “Our lower belts had a great weekend – the 2V and the 3V had strong aggressive races. I think it’s all pointing to signs that the training is working.”

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