Dartmouth Dedicates Facility to Advance Big Green Rowing

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Rowers can now train all year on moving water.

An aerial view looking north of the new boathouse
The addition to the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse can be seen from above. (Photo by Lars Blackmore)

More than 400 guests and students gathered on the banks Connecticut River on Saturday to dedicate a state-of-the-art addition to the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse, a major expansion that will allow rowers to train in moving water year-round and strengthen Dartmouth’s ability to recruit topflight talent.

Alumni rowers and dedicated rowing enthusiasts generously provided the full $7.5 million for the addition and an endowment for its ongoing operation and maintenance.

The 6,400-square-foot addition features two state-of-the-art moving-water tanks that simulate rowing on water. These tanks will better prepare Dartmouth rowers for the start of the spring rowing season in February—a time of year when rowers at many other universities are already practicing on open water, but the Connecticut River is often covered by ice.

“Between the renovated Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse, this new addition with the moving-water tanks, and the beautiful river that we row on—and having all of this right on campus—we now have one of the finest collegiate rowing facilities in the U.S., if not the finest,” said Wyatt Allen, the Betsy and Mark Gates 1959 Head Coach of Men’s Heavyweight Rowing.

The men’s heavyweight team finished 10th nationally in 2018, and many alumni and parents at the dedication ceremony predicted that the new facility will make Dartmouth even more competitive.

“There has always been a certain pride among rowers about being ‘Dartmouth tough.’ But the sport has become so much more competitive in the past 20 years that the lack of water time has become a real disadvantage,” said Bill McNabb ’79, a member of the Dartmouth Athletics Advisory Board who rowed as an undergraduate. “This is a game-changer for us. This facility is going to allow us to be much more competitive at the very highest levels.”

The new facility, constructed as part of The Call to Lead, Dartmouth’s comprehensive campaign, also has space for an additional 30 indoor rowing machines, which are essential as rowers develop their aerobic capacity.

The opportunity to improve each rower’s technique on moving water will be one of the major benefits of training with the tanks.

“Technique can be the difference between the best crews and very good crews,” said Trina Santry ’80 Tuck ’87, who rowed as a student and is the mother of a current member of the men’s heavyweight team. “We’ve always said Dartmouth rowers are in the best shape, but they don’t get as much time on the water to work on technique. The moving-water tanks will enable the team to spend more quality time on technique and fine-tune their rowing together.”

The combination of the boathouse addition and an outstanding stretch of flatwater—the Connecticut River as it flows past Hanover is one of the nation’s premier rowing destinations from late spring through early fall—will make Dartmouth an even more attractive choice for talented young rowers, said Andre Hunter ’83, chair of the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing. “We saw heightened interest when this project was announced. This is going to make a tremendous difference in our ability to recruit outstanding rowers.”

Approximately 120 athletes row during the spring and fall seasons as part of the College’s three varsity teams—one for women and lightweight and heavyweight crews for men. With the opening of the addition, members of all three teams will for the first time be able to train simultaneously.

The main portion of the Friends of Dartmouth Boathouse, constructed in 1986 through the generosity of donors, will continue to house training ergometers, locker rooms, and boat storage, while also providing a social space for rowers, alumni, and parents to gather.

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