Paddling to perfection
By TIM WATANABE
Redmond Reporter Sports Reporter
July 9, 2009 · Updated 2:34 PM
Usually when playing sports at the collegiate level, it takes at least a couple years of experience to be able to reach the pinnacle of a sport.
If you’re a member of the University of Washington’s Freshman Eight crew boat, however, like Redmond resident and 2008 Redmond High School graduate Rob Munn, you’d be an exception to the rule.
The 18-year-old, who got his start rowing for the Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) during his high school years, helped to polish off one of the best freshman rowing performances in school history as the Freshman Eight went undefeated this season and capped off the year with a convincing seven-second win over second-place Harvard during the finals of the 107th Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta, held at Rancho Cordova, Calif. last month.
“After all the hard work we put in, it felt really rewarding to win the National Championship,” Munn said. “It was really cool because of the teamwork that we had put together, the bonds that the team had built as a whole.”
A TEAM GAME
Munn, who originally started rowing just as conditioning for the football season, found that it was the team aspect of the sport, and the thrill of victory, that got him hooked.
“I really didn’t know until I did the sport, how much you have to work together with the guys in your boat,” he said. “I didn’t win races much when I first started, but after I started winning, the feeling of winning a race is really kinda what kept me going.”
Much of that winning began as part of the Sammamish Rowing Association, where Munn made the Junior World Championships roster in the Men’s Eight boat last summer and earned the opportunity to represent the United States in Austria at the FISA World Rowing Championships.
Munn’s winning tradition carried on to UW, where he and seven other first-year Husky rowers made it a season to remember.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Munn on his crew’s spectacular season. “Our coaching staff was really good, and when I went to UW I wanted to be on a competitive rowing team.”
The soon-to-be UW sophomore said that people may not realize how much of a team sport rowing is; every crew member must be on top of his game in order to be successful.
“It’s all about the team aspect, everyone needs to be focused and dialed in,” said Munn, who is coaching rowing classes at the SRA this summer. “Everyone needs to know exactly what they’re planning to do, if one person isn’t ready, then you may not have a good race. Rowing is one of the tougher sports and you don’t really realize it until you get out there, just how demanding it is.”
Beyond the physical demands expected of him in the boat, to be on the UW rowing team was a huge time commitment, according to Munn.
During the fall and winter, practices are mainly held in the afternoons, but as the crew season starts up, athletes sometimes had to be up before the crack of dawn to begin their training.
“Two to three mornings a week we’ll go early before classes start,” Munn said. “One to two hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, and then some Saturday practice.”
All that dedication paid off in a big way for Munn, who is studying Economics and added that balancing his course load was paramount in being able to manage being a student-athlete.
“Definitely winning the National Championship,” said Munn on his most memorable moment this season. “Going to UW and getting to row in the finals of the IRA, getting up the line, finishing, and winning, it was a cool feeling.”
As for his future plans in the sport, Munn said he plans to play it by ear.
“I’m going to see where I can go,” he said. “If I’m good enough, I’ll try out for the national teams, but it’s all touch-and-go from here. I’m taking it one year at a time.”
But one thing is for sure, the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder with tremendous upper-body strength is already chomping at the bit to get back into the boat after enjoying a freshman campaign for the ages.
“I’m really looking forward (to next season). Winning your freshman year just makes you want to win more, and keep succeeding. I’m ecstatic to go back and row again.”Contact Redmond Reporter Sports Reporter Tim Watanabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 867-0353, ext. 5054.