by Coach Carol Quijada
Para-Rowers, Maria Bournias and Daniel Zwick, prepared their equipment each evening keeping Coach Veronica’s motto for the summer season in mind: laps, laps, and more laps. The same mindset was applied to our rowers with cognitive disabilities in the Recreational Adaptive program: Gustavo Perez, William Choe, and Erik Navarro. All athletes knew their last summer race would be at the BAYADA regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, PA.
The race festivities began on Friday night at the annual Jolly Up dinner. Coaches and athletes had time to enjoy conversations with other athletes and strategize for the races. All athletes and families left dinner with positive thoughts and the goal to pull their best strokes on the river. Coach Carol and Veronica felt very confident in the athletes’ abilities – a confidence shared by parents who saw each of their sons’ preparation on Meadow Lake.
Margarita Mendoza, Eric’s mother, expressed her happiness and gratitude for the continuing effort of coaches and athletes during summer training. Up until BAYADA, athletes in the LTA-ID events had only participated at the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Indoor Championships. Eric participated at C.R.A.S.H.-B. the past three years and improved his split each year. William participated last year and brought back a bronze medal. Gustavo had brought back two hammers and a silver medal. The athletes had all tasted competition. It was also the first time a Row New York athlete with a cognitive disability represented us on the water. The energy throughout the season and during their preparation remained positive and happy. In William’s words, “I am happy!”
The first race of the day belonged to William, partnered with Coach Carol, in the LTA-ID 2x Men event. William had practiced only three times in a racing shell prior to BAYADA. Coach Carol was extremely happy to coach William and, “to actually experience the race with him was beyond thrilling.” Coach Carol and William rowed to the starting line where William met other seasoned athletes and he was full of joy. Athletes on the water shared their happiness and everyone wished each other good luck! William raced well and applied his rowing skills into each stroke. After crossing the finish line, William was tired but so happy with himself for passing a boat. He made several friends in his category throughout the day.
Gustavo, who partnered with Coach Veronica, also had a great event. Coaches and athletes watched their boat in the LTA 2x Men’s event with great pride. Gustavo showed exceptional tenacity and strength with each stroke and his desire to do well was clear to all. Coach Veronica was very proud of his accomplishments and spoke highly of the excitement felt in the boat.
Eric partnered with Coach Carol and raced in the Recreational LTA-ID Men’s event. He had the same positive experience as his teammates. Eric was very excited rowing to the starting line and prepared by taking a couple of power 10’s. He raced well, never stopping, and continued to smile through the finish line. With only one practice in his boat, supplemented with erg workouts, Eric did an amazing job and was able to receive a bronze medal.
Our Para Rowers were delighted to see our adaptive athletes on the water. Like past seasons, our para-athletes were a great model of competitive rowing for our adaptive athletes. When Maria Bournias rowed past our athletes they cheered, understanding the team support needed for each athlete. Maria was on a steady path of personal records and BAYADA was no different. She performed exceedingly well and coaches were proud to see all their work in the span of a 1k race. She left with silver and new PR. Daniel Zwick also left with silver in the Mixed LTA 2x with Halifax Rowing Association rower, Anne Medlar. This was Daniel’s first year in the LTA 1x Mens > 40 Final event where he finished with a bronze medal. Daniel also competed in the last race of the day – the LTA 4+ composite!
“I had a wonderful time at the race.” – Daniel Zwick
BAYADA Regatta 2016 saw many firsts. Coaches were so proud of each of their athletes and grateful for the teammates, family, volunteers, and friends who supported and motivated us to perform well. It was a highlight to finally expand our adaptive programs to include physical and cognitive disabilities. The joy throughout the race was more overwhelming than the 115-degree weather. We cannot wait to see what’s in store for BAYADA Regatta 2017 but we are sure our athletes will deliver!