Student rowers Alex Oser ’16 and Jenna Thompson ’16 raced in the 51st Annual Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Massachusetts. The regatta was hosted Oct. 17-18, and served as a temporary home for high school, collegiate and professional crews from around the world. The 5-kilometer course has crews row on the Charles River as they pass Boston landmarks such as Boston University, Harvard Business School, Harvard Square, Harvard Stadium and Cambridge Boathouse.
Oser and Thompson both raced in the women’s high school varsity eight competition, the top event for high school women’s eight-person boats. Women at that level are also eligible to race in the junior varsity eight event, and the third varsity eight event. Oser and Thompson’s boat raced against approximately 80 other crews in their event.
Oser and Thompson are both seasoned rowers, with seven years of experience between them. Thompson has been rowing since her freshman year. Along the way, she has rowed for the USA junior national team, and has been in multiple nationally ranked boats. Oser has been rowing since her sophomore year, and has also rowed in many nationally ranked boats. Recently, Thompson committed to row at Dartmouth University, and Oser is also being recruited to row by universities across the country.
“I honestly believe that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without rowing,” Thompson said. ”It’s made me a better friend and a better student, and has taught me the value of hard work and determination.”
Both athletes have trained with the Marina Aquatic Center Junior Rowing team, under the tutelage of women’s coach Zohar Abramovitz.
“They both [Oser and Thompson] bring a great deal of experience,” Abramovitz said. “They’re both outstanding competitors, and have really grown into being leaders on the team.”
The program consists of approximately 150 high school students from across the Los Angeles area.
Harvard-Westlake has always had a number of students involved in this program, with six Wolverines competing for the team during the 2015-16 season. Last year, Riley Spain ’15 graduated and now rows for Stanford University, Ethan Drapac ’15 for Santa Clara University, and Sabrina Zaks ’15 for Columbia University.
This year, the Harvard-Westlake representation on the team consists of three freshman, one sophomore and two seniors. Thompson was a member of the women’s varsity eight last year, in which she had the opportunity to travel to Florida for the US Rowing Youth National Championships. Her boat placed ninth in the entire nation.
The Marina Aquatic Center, or MAC, varsity teams have always been very successful since the organization’s founding in the 1990’s. The program has sent boats to the Head of the Charles Regatta for the last nine years. Last year, the women’s varsity eight placed sixth out of 85, finishing in 18 minutes and five seconds.
“We are just hoping to have a clean race, it’s a tough course with a lot of things that can go wrong out there,” Abramovitz said. “But if everything goes well we definitely have the ability to finish in the top five.”
Oser and Thompson both commit huge amounts of their time to train for races. They both practice Monday through Friday from 4:15-6:45 p.m., and Sunday mornings from 7-10 a.m. The practices usually consist of a warm-up, and then roughly an hour and a half of rowing.
“Each race is like a piece of art, if one thing goes wrong it can mess up an entire piece, so we have to practice a lot to make it perfect,” Oser said. “It is a really big time commitment, but performing well feels amazing, and it makes it all worth it. I really couldn’t see my life without it.”
Results of the race were not available as of press time.