On Sunday, Oct. 2, women’s crew headed to the Riverfront Regatta on the Connecticut River in Hartford, Connecticut. The women’s team dominated the competition, placing first in the Open 8, the Open 4, and the Open 4 Novice. Specifically memorable were Wesleyan’s 9 and 14 second leads over the University of Connecticut, a Division I team who took second to Wesleyan in the Open 8 and Open 4. The Argus sat down with first years Jemma Blazina and Nethra Pullela to learn about their first experiences with Wesleyan crew.

The Argus: How has the team been treating you guys so far?

Jemma Blazina: It’s super fun and probably one of the most inclusive groups of people. The seniors are kind of like the moms of the team and everyone’s really sweet. Outside of the team, they’re extremely helpful with classes, and I even have at least two classes with some rowers which is always nice. They’ve been supportive as I’ve been getting used to school and always giving good advice, whether about rowing or anything else I need.

Nethra Pullela: It’s been fun. I’m a novice, which means I’m a walk-on to the team and wasn’t recruited. It’s a little interesting because there are only two novices this year, while in past years there’s been more. Last year I think they had seven novices. It’s kind of difficult to be a novice on the team because everyone else is so skilled, but it’s also been helpful to have such supportive teammates. I usually sit with Sarah Paulson [’19], and she’s able to give me tips and help me work on things the coach might not see. What’s great about crew here is that it’s one of the only varsity sports where you can just walk onto the team with little to no experience and be trained and taught.

A: What’s it like to be a first-year on the team?

JB: It’s really cool and awesome to be around such a dedicated group of rowers. Everyone’s here to have fun, but it’s also nice because everyone is serious about the sport. It’s different than high school in that way because everyone has made the choice to be here and to continue rowing.

NP: We do a lot of bonding stuff that has really helped make us feel welcome. The team went apple picking together last weekend and that was really cool. The freshmen also had a Chinese takeout evening one night. It’s great to get together outside of practice and get to know each other better.

A: How does college rowing compare to high school and/or pre-collegiate rowing?

JB: It’s much more doable than I thought it would be. Our practices are more often and are longer, but they’re not very far away so it’s not too difficult if we have morning practice. It’s also more dynamic than high school. My school in Washington had its own rowing team, but here there’s people from all over the place, so it’s great to see all of the different rowing styles from different areas and how they all come to work together.

NP: The first time I actually got into a boat was here at Wesleyan. I mean, I had gotten into, like, a canoe before, but that obviously doesn’t count. What’s great is that they take complete beginners here. I joined the team because I was looking for something I could go to every day and have some stability with, and that’s exactly what the team has given me. Rowing has always interested me as I went to school in England and crew was a massive sport there. However, I didn’t have time to participate because I was involved in horseback riding.

A: In what role did you guys race on Saturday? How was your first race?

JB: I participated in the Novice Four with other freshmen. It was great because I got to race with other newcomers and it provided a really awesome start to my first season here. After several weeks of practices, it was great to actually get onto the water and work with my team in the race. It was also fun because I got to see one of my old rower friends who rows at the Coast Guard Academy, someone I hadn’t seen in months.

NP: My first race will actually be the Head of the Fish Regatta at Lee’s Park in Saratoga Springs. It’s the third and last regatta of the fall season. Because I’m a novice, we spend most of the fall season learning how to row properly, practicing participating in teams, and just getting our fitness up.

A: When you’re not rowing, what do you guys like to do on campus?

JB: I love sleep and I definitely think it’s important as a rower to get lots of it. I’m also exploring lots of different clubs, specifically the outing club which is actually led by one of the girls on the team. It’s great because none of the outings conflict with practice. In terms of school, I’ve been loving my government class, International Politics, and definitely want to continue taking some more government classes here. Along with that, I’ve been enjoying the political scene here because it’s really active and there are so many passionate students.

NP: I spend a lot of time in my hall…shoutout to Clark 3. I also spend a lot of time with my roommate. We hang out a lot, doing everything from work to shopping. Otherwise I’m just getting used to campus. For the future, I’m thinking about joining the horseback riding team and maybe the boxing team. As for academics, I’m really interested in biology, but I’m also taking some cool humanities courses: Greek Mythology, Race and Religion, Economies of Death, and Geographies of Care.

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