The road to the 2012 NCAA Championships began Tuesday morning at 6:15 a.m. as the Wisconsin women's rowing team held its first practice of the 2011-12 season.
After a quick briefing from head coach Bebe Bryans, the team spent the next hour and a half rowing on Lake Mendota, mostly in pairs. Though conditions weren't ideal -- it was a bit chilly and fairly choppy -- the Badgers adapted to the fall-like conditions.
Starting the season off rowing in pairs -- as opposed to eights, which are easier to set -- was a challenge and a great learning experience for the rowers. As they worked on battling the waves crashing against their boat, Bryans reminded the team that "if you can row in this in a pair, you can row in anything."
While many crews across the country have the privilege of rowing on small lakes or rivers with little amounts of wind and waves, Lake Mendota can be tough on rowers. It isn't uncommon for the Badgers to travel to different corners of the lake depending on the wind direction.
Tuesday the wind was coming from the northeast, so the team practiced in University Bay, just west of the Porter Boathouse. Each boat spent time rowing a loop, competing to stay in pace with another boat. As the practice continued, the boats moved together smoother, the set was better and the synergy began to show.
We caught up with coach Bryans after practice: