Lakeside student Chris Kemp with the Augusta Junior Rowing Club rows on a machine July 2 at the Boathouse while Greenbrier student Nick Hodor warms up behind him. The clubsrowing team made rowing history the next day.
Photo by Chris Thelen
A rowing team loaded with Columbia County teens broke the world record on July 3 for distance rowed on a stationary rowing machine in 24 hours.
The 10-member team from the Augusta Juniors Rowing Club, eight of whom attend high school in Columbia County, started rowing early in the evening of July 2 against a record set by junior rowers from New Zealand.
When they finally finished 24 hours later, the group of high schoolers had obliterated the record.
The teens set out to eclipse the mark set by the Kiwis of 333,052 meters in 24 hours on a stationary rowing machine.
The area youths broke the record in 23 hours, and just added to a new record total over the final hour. They distanced themselves from the previous record-holders by more than 15,000 meters, for a total of 348,370.
"We are tremendously excited," said Greenbrier rising junior Tyler Disk. "We set out to break the record and that's what we did. Now we just want to sleep."
Disk saw the record on line and thought the group of rowers had a good shot at breaking the record. "We did a lot of math to figure out if we could beat it or not," Disk said. "We probably did more math on this than we did all year in school."
Lakeside senior A.J. Doak said, "I just let the other guys do all the math. ... I just row."
The group started rowing July 2 at 6 p.m., with each individual rowing 20 minute sets or "pieces."
After the first few pieces, the group of rowers stayed pretty fresh. Reese Hamilton, a Westside student, completed his first piece and said he felt refreshed and ready to go for his second rotation.
"I'm OK now, but I probably be dead tomorrow when we finish," he said.
However, Doak said that he would still be in top shape at the end of the feat.
"I feel like I'm in top shape and I think I will feel just as good tomorrow as I do now," he said after his first piece.
The rotation slowed down a little and some rowers had to contribute more to pick up the slack, Disk said. They also had to deal with a no-show and a late arrival, Ryan Reynolds, who was on a plane from California when the rowing began.
Between their 20-minute pieces, each individual had about two hours of down time.
A DVD player and Playstation 2 were available for viewing while the teens weren't rowing. Some used the two-hour breaks to engage in the entertainment, but the rowers also used the time to sleep and eat.
"We didn't eat or sleep very much," Disk said as he laughed. "We might get a half-hour of sleep between each piece and we couldn't eat too much because it might hinder the performance."
The group of rowers also hope the record will draw attention to rowing.
Coupled with the Olympics happening later this summer, a rowing feat could recruit area students to the novice program with the Junior Rowers.
"Most of our novice rowers will move up to varsity, so we are hoping to add more rowers when school begins," Disk said. He added that it is hard to recruit athletes to participate in a low-publicized sport that requires a year-round commitment.
The team members are: A.J. Doak, Chris Kemp, Sunnant Ponnala, Michael Packard and Michael Thomason, Lakeside High School; Nick Hodor, Phillip Hill and Tyler Disk, Greenbrier High; Ryan Reynolds, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School; and Reese Hamilton, Westside High.
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