Olympics, Boat Race Qualifications Highlight Heavyweight Success Overseas
Two former Princeton rowers have recently earned major distinctions overseas, including one who will be returning to the Summer Olympics.
Both Sam Loch '06 and John Lindeman '11 will be competing in two of the most prestigious competitions in rowing this year. Loch is making his return to the Olympics, as he was was just named to the Australian Olympic Team as a member of the men’s 8+. Former Princeton head coach Curtis Jordan has been named as a co-coach of the crew; Jordan coached Loch when Princeton won the 2006 EARC and Henley titles.
Loch was a member of the Australian 8+ during the 2008 Summer Olympics, and he helped Australia to the grand final, where it ultimately finished sixth. Former Tiger teammate Steve Coppola '06 was a part of the U.S. 8+ in that same race, and the Americans earned bronze. The U.S. has not yet named its teams.
While Loch will be competing this summer, Lindeman will be competing this weekend. Lindeman was named to the Cambridge boat for this year’s Oxford-Cambridge "Boat Race," a well-known and highly prestigious competition in the United Kingdom.
Lindeman caught up with GoPrincetonTigers.com recently and shared his thoughts on his experiences with Princeton rowing, the current team and his thoughts on being a member of the Cambridge 8+.
1) How did you feel about your senior season at Princeton, and how important was it to get into both the EARC and IRA grand finals?
My senior year at Princeton was wonderful. I was extremely happy with the way the team rose up and met each of the challenges it faced head on. It was a really exciting time to be around the boathouse — the lightweights were so close to another national championship, the women were undefeated, and we had a ton of momentum behind us.
Getting the Varsity into the Eastern Sprints and IRA final was the culmination of four years of hard work with my senior class. We certainly weren’t the strongest team in the league, but we worked really hard, and Greg Hughes developed a Princeton Racing strategy in us- an athletic, as well as intelligent, way to race. Obviously, we were a bit disappointed to not get the win, especially with how close Sprints was. I think that feeling of not finishing the job, of not getting that win, is what is pushing me here with the Cambridge boat.
Coming into my senior season, I wanted to make my legacy as captain spread beyond just the Varsity 8; I wanted to leave the program having established a visible depth within the team’s talent. My goal was to get each of the boats in the program into their “A Final” at Eastern Sprints. To watch the team not only do this, but to also get each of the boats into their Grand Final at the IRA for the first time in fifteen odd years was amazing. I could not have been prouder of the senior class and the leadership they showed to get the team to that point. And I am even more excited for the future of Princeton Crew.
2) When did you find out you were chosen for the Cambridge Boat, and how special was that moment to you?
The last few weeks before selection were really tough for me personally. About five weeks before the boat was announced, I broke my rib, and had to spend the next 3 and half weeks training indoors. I came back into the boat for about a week before I strained my hamstring two days before the crew announcement. During that month, I kept my head down and just did everything I could to get faster, even though I couldn’t row. Our coach decided to keep the boat as it was when I was in it for the announcement though, and sent me down to London despite the fact that I was injured. The President of the team told me that I would be in the boat as soon as I got healthy. To know that he and the coach had enough faith in me to keep me on a sort of injury reserve list instead of moving forward without me was a great feeling. It wasn’t until a week later that I finally got myself back into the boat and felt that I had finally made it. It was extremely exciting to achieve something that I had thought impossible nine years ago, and although I knew there was a lot of work to do and I still had a race to win, I did allow myself a minute to cherish it.
3) Do you think your history of competing against a crew like Harvard will help you when you get into such a big rivalry race?
The Harvard race at Princeton will always be something I remember and I have no doubt that it is helping me in terms of the history and rivalry of this race. Harvard is one of three teams in the country I was never able to beat when I was at Princeton and I certainly carry that with me. I actually catch myself fairly often accidentally calling Oxford, Harvard. Last year’s Harvard race was the closest race I’ve ever been in. It was also one of the most exciting and emotional. Rowing next to a rival, emotions are running high and you are just a little bit more willing to throw yourself into the pain it will take to win. When your only race of the year is against one team like it is here, every stroke you take, every horrible workout you log, you begin to associate with that team. By the time you race Oxford or Harvard, you are so geared up for them because you have committed yourself to their defeat so many times before.
4) What are the similarities and differences between the crew season at Princeton and at Cambridge?
One of the best things we did at Princeton actually comes out of a Princeton tradition within the Boat House: Speed Order on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday, every boat in the boathouse lined up and raced against one another. That meant that every week we would sit next to the Lightweight Eight — maybe a boat down, maybe even, depending on the length of the piece — and we would race. These races ended up being some of the most intense racing I did at Princeton. It was all about developing raw speed and unleashing it against your opponent. Most of the weeks, the times you put down didn’t matter, all that mattered was beating the lightweights. The Boat Race is sort of the same way: the agenda of the Boat Race is to crush your opponent, not to row faster than them.
On the one hand, competing in the Eastern Sprints league I think has really set me up well for the Boat Race. Every weekend, Princeton has to race against some of the fastest crews in the country. The side by side dual race style of these races is one of the most important parts of the Boat Race: it is a race against one other boat. To win, you don’t go out and put the fastest time down you can; you have to race for mental and physical advantages, so you might have to really push at one section of the course to get a certain advantage knowing that it will cost you later.
On the other hand, the season at Princeton is entirely different than the Cambridge season. At Princeton you race every weekend leading up to the championship races at Sprints and IRAs. By that time, everyone has a good feel with where they probably sit relative to the other teams. At Cambridge, we only have one race in a season, and it is raced on a tidal river which flows at different speeds throughout the day. Someone told me you will never see the same Thames, where the race is held, twice. Because of this, you really have no way of gauging how you stand relative to the other team until the day. It makes the race a lot more of exciting and the preparation a lot more nerve-wracking never knowing how fast you are compared to your opposition.
5) Do you think you’ll be following Princeton crew throughout the spring while you prepare for The Boat Race?
I definitely will be following the crew this season. The Princeton season starts right around the time the Boat Race, so I have no excuse to miss a race now that they are streamed live online. I still have a lot of friends competing and coaching there, and I am really excited to see what Ian and Greg will do with the team this year. It looks like they have a lot of young talent so it has the potential to shape up to an exciting season. I also have to admit that my little brother is a sophomore on the team this year, so I have another great reason to watch. My family (The LindeMOM and the LindeMEN) are extremely supportive of one another and try to never miss each other’s races. He can expect a number of “LindeMAN UP” themed texts come race day, just as I know he will be sending them to me when April 7th rolls around.
6) Was there one race in your Princeton career that you looked forward to most, similar to the way you will be looking towards April 7?
I always loved Eastern Sprints. For us, the race was kind of like a holiday. Someone once told us that “Sprints is bigger than Kwanza!” in an attempt to explain how exciting the race was — it would be like Christmas if for the six months beforehand you had to see the gifts under the tree everyday. All of the work we put in throughout the year had an eye on Sprints. It was one of those races where you needed to throw everything you had at it just to get into final, and then four hours later, you were expected to do it again. It tested all of the mental and physical preparations you put in throughout the year. Most of all, it was fun. There was a buzz around Sprints. The nature of the two races in a day allowed the possibility of any one coming away with the win. The Boat Race anticipation is sort of like that. I have no idea what is in store for me in terms of Oxford’s speed, but I remember all of the work we have done and I know that we will be ready for it come race day. The race on April 7th is simply that: “THE race” for us. It is everything we worked for, it already has that buzz building that Sprints had. Although I know we need the next three weeks to prepare for the day, I am so excited for it, I want it to be sooner. Race day is the day you go all in, embrace the pain cave and ride the lightening. To rowers, there is nothing more alluring.