Newbies beef up UFH rowing stock ahead of marquee regatta

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Fort Hare rowing coach Lunga Mcetywa is hard at work preparing his charges for the new season.

 

The upcoming Eastern Cape Championships in East London will offer University of Fort Hare rowing coach Lunga Mcetywa the perfect platform to assess the strengths and weaknesses of his squad this year.

Twelve new rowers have been recruited to the 33-member team, which have already assembled to prepare for the new season.

The provincial champs take place on February 3, a week before the prestigious Buffalo Regatta in the same city.

Having retained the bulk of his squad from last year, Mcetywa was confident that Fort Hare would deliver the goods in 2024.

In the past few months his rowers have pulled out all the stops to lure friends and classmates to the sport, while invitations to get involved were also put out on social media.

While many of the new recruits were novices, they were “learning quickly,” the coach said.

“For now, it’s a matter of getting their technique right. We are trying to get as much mileage as possible between now and the champs.

“I’m having them row up and down, up and down to get their endurance fitness right.”

He said their focus would shift to sprints and starts this week, with long-distance rowing thrown into the mix to further build stamina.

It was challenging having two important events so soon after the festive season as athletes were understandably not in top shape, he said.

The short space of time between the holidays and regattas means they have to work extra hard to return to their erstwhile competitive levels.

Mcetywa acknowledged that the provincial champs, attended by clubs and schools from across the Eastern Cape, would be used as a marker of where they stood as a team.

The Buffalo Regatta, however, is serious business as it is one of the country’s premier events.

He said while having the races in East London would not provide any sort of “home-ground advantage”, it did mean UFH would not have to spend money on accommodation and therefore more rowers could compete.

Mcetywa has already cast an eye to the University Sport South Africa (USSA) Sprints in April and Boat Race later in the year, saying his squad would be at “100 percent” for the student showpieces.

Last year, the men’s team impressed at the Sprints while placing seventh overall in the Boat Race. The women finished ninth at the latter.

“Our target is to improve on these results this year,” the coach said with a small amount of conviction.

He added that the interest in the sport shown by female students continued to impress him. At one stage last season, there were more women than men at the club.

“This year we want to push our ladies a little bit more. I think this year we will get things right.”

Mcetywa is always on the hunt for new rowers, even if they had never participated.

Interested persons can contact him on 071 000 9988.

 

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