MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – If you’re familiar with Manhattan, Kansas, you know the area isn’t blessed with rivers and streams. Luckily for K-State rowing, it has a world-class facility to help it become its best.
“When I came here, we didn’t have this,” head coach Pat Sweeney said. “Then, when we had this put in, it lifted up the whole team…”
When Sweeney got to K-State in 2004, the program looked a lot different.
“Before I was even here they were up in Ahearn, so this facility is honestly so amazing,” rower Symone Simmons said. “We’re in Kansas, so we don’t get a lot of water time like other schools do in Florida or California. So, having a really advanced indoor facility is important for us and our training.”
In 2013, K-State opened its $2.7 million Intercollegiate Rowing Center. Apart from giving the team a home, it’s a great way to catch the eye of prospective athletes.
“Big difference we have,” Sweeney said, “we recruit local women, primarily from Kansas and around the local states, who haven’t done the sport before.”
The athletes coach Sweeney and crew bring in have little to no rowing experience before getting to Manhattan. Coaches send out fliers to high school juniors and seniors that fit a body type and frame of a good rower.
“A lot of us, most of us, a majority are recruited inexperienced,” Simmons said. “Honestly, all of us are recruited inexperienced. First few months when we get here, it’s baby steps on learning how to row and technique and power and how to apply that. Just rates and consistencies because there’s a lot of technique and a lot of things that go into rowing that people don’t know about.”
Even with a lack of experience in recruits, coach Sweeney has averaged two all-conference rowers each year for the past decade.
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