The Ohio State Crew Club is a highly competitive, co-ed rowing club that represents The Ohio State University in the sport of collegiate rowing. Since being founded in 1978, the team has taught men and women from OSU to compete at the highest levels of competition. This drive has resulted in several OSU Crew alumni representing the United States on the U.S. National and Olympic teams. A former member has won several gold World Championship medals in the U.S. men`s eight, a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games, and a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games. The Ohio State Crew Club is completely self-funded. The organization depends upon the drive of its members and the generosity of friends and alumni to make rowing possible. The love of rowing and the desire to be better than just average compel the men and women of this organization to work and train harder than many students ever realize.
In The Beginning
The Ohio State Crew Club was started with an idea and not much else. In 1976, just after Chris “Squatty” Swartz graduated from Marietta College, he spoke with the athletic department in the fall of 1976 about adding crew as a club sport. He proposed a budget of $2700 for two used boats and one coaching launch. The athletic department denied him. However, they did give him permission to try to get interest. Squatty started posting flyers around and having meetings. He held six meetings before anyone showed up. Cathy Craig was the first student to express any interest. Then there were two more meetings where at least 10 people showed up. The intramural recreation department gave the team approval to get started. Many people helped with the formation of the club. Among them were Dave Greiner, the first advisor, and Joe who ran the bowling alley in the Drake Union. The crew was allotted the far back cage area in Drake to store boats. They only had one single, which belonged to Cathy Craig.
The first practices were in early January of 1978. There were about ten people working out at Larkin’s Hall. The work outs consisted of water tests, weights, and running. Then, in March, there was word that a boat, an old Pocock 4+ and four oars, could be borrowed from Nebraska, but it had to be picked up at Notre Dame. Determined, Squatty reserved a van from the university and found someone to help him get the boat. The boat racks he put on the van were homemade from the legs of old school chairs and the straps were just old braided ropes. Early Sunday morning, the two men loaded the boat on the racks and started back. The racks gave way in Goshen, Indiana, and so they fastened the boat to the roof of the van by running the rope through the cab windows. Of course, it was raining and only 37 degrees F at the time. They got back to campus at 5:30 am on Monday and started calling people to help unload the boat into the Boathouse at the Drake Union. Practice was slated for Wednesday. In mid-April, the crew entered the Midwest Championships in Madison and the MACRA (in Marietta). They had only been on the water for two weeks of practice.
The First National Regatta
Four years after its inception, in 1982, Ohio State attended their first Dad Vail National Regatta, entering an undefeated women ‘s varsity 4+ with Joe Corna as coach, a once-beaten lightweight men ‘s varsity 4+ with Pat Dennis and Bill Swartz coaching, and a men ‘s novice 4+ posting a winning record with Squatty and Ira coaching.When they got to the Vail’s, the women’s stroke, Sue Pierce Shields, didn’t race because her best friend was getting married that day. Oops! The women ‘s four did not make finals. A crew that the women had beaten earlier in the season by more than three seconds won the finals. The lightweight men were leading in the heat at the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, but Dave Koch caught a huge crab – a boat stopper. The men lost twelve to fifteen strokes. They came back but missed qualifying by half of a deck. The men’s Novice 4+ came in second in the heat to FIT by five seconds, who had beaten them by fifty seconds five weeks prior. The coaches had told the men just to stay with FIT and qualify, not spend too much energy trying to win. The morning of finals, the coaches psyched up the men. They had them see the race in their minds, watch themselves rowing away from the field, and see the other boats behind them. It worked! They won the final by four to five seconds and walking! FIT took second, even though the Golden Panthers had beaten this boat by more than a minute in Florida. This was a great end to a great season!
Since being founded in 1978, OSU Crew has taught men and women from Ohio State to compete at the highest levels of rowing competition. This drive has resulted in several OSU Crew alumni representing the United States on the U.S. National and Olympic teams. A former member, Bryan Volpenhein, has won several gold World Championship medals in the U.S. men`s eight, a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games, and a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games. Bryan currently coaches the Men’s US National Team.