The Girls Preparatory School (GPS) varsity rowing team will compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta at the international level.
The event will be held on the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 20th. GPS is the only Chattanooga school entered; they will compete in the Women’s Youth Eights.
Head Varsity Rowing Coach David Hall says the event is the largest two-day regatta in the world. GPS was chosen from a lottery; the school also sent teams in 2000 and 2015. While most racing crews will hail from the U.S., this year’s event has drawn entrants from Canada, Mexico, Australia, China, South Africa, and all across Europe. “Our girls will be racing crews from every corner of the United States—California to New England, Florida to Seattle, and everywhere in between,” says Coach Hall. According to the event’s website, more than 11,000 athletes will compete and hundreds of thousands gather to watch.
Ten GPS rowers have been selected to make the trip: Larkin Brown, Ashlen Carroll, Corley Compton, Olivia Evans, Rebecca Guhde, Katie Nash, Allison Smith, Ellie Swann, Lizzy Walley (coxswain) and Molly Ballenger (alternate). Seniors Guhde, Brown, and Smith will serve as team captains. Brown competed in August in the 2018 World Rowing Junior Championships at the Czech Republic and at the Head of the Charles as a freshman in 2015.
“I’m excited to go with this group of girls specifically because we are more prepared this time,” Brown says. “We work really well together and I think we will do well. This is the seniors final huzzah to make a name for GPS.”
Brown has witnessed a shift in the program over the past year. “We’ve worked a lot on the mental side,” Brown says. “Coach Hall has been instrumental in that, and we’ve grown a lot closer and have higher expectations of our team. The girls have also incorporated weight training into their routine, something they’ve chosen to do on their own before school. We also have more structured power workouts where we row longer and harder to build our endurance,” Brown adds.
Guhde echoes those sentiments and says, “Rowing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also the most rewarding. You have to trust your boat-mates completely and work together. The rowing girls are my best friends.”
The GPS Eight’s race begins on Sunday, October 21, at 10:19 a.m. with bow number one. GPS is bow 55, so they will likely be seen coming down the course between 10:30 and 11 a.m., depending on race day conditions.
“Our athletes have been working extremely hard this season, with their eyes set on this opportunity since this time last year,” says Hall. “The girls know the expectations that naturally come with a regatta like the Head of the Charles. I'm excited to see what they can do with their combined experience in one shell on an international stage like this one.”
GPS will also compete at home in the Head of the Hooch regatta on November 3-4, organized and hosted by Lookout Rowing Club and Atlanta Rowing Club.