Varsity athletes and world record holders — that’s the goal for a group of 10 Western Mustangs rowers. Since Sunday the Mustangs have been raising money while living among their ergometers, attempting to break the one million metre record for an under-10 men’s small team. Their fundraising will end today.
Along with the arduous physical challenge, the team has set an online fundraising goal of $4,000. The funds collected will be split between a donation to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a trip to the exclusive Dad Vail Regatta for the team in May.
Since the Canadian University rowing season technically ends in the fall, Western will not fund a trip to the Philadelphia competition. So, if the rowers want to try their hand against some of the best competition in North America, they’ll have to pay their way there.
The Western group has been identified as a “small team” for the competition, meaning that they can have a maximum of 10 participants.
Given the incredible nature of the task, the event has been months in the making. In fact, Mustangs men's rowing head coach, Dan Bechard, noted that the entire process began with Elliot Grenier, a first-year athlete, in a post-season meeting.
“The first [time] that they came to me was back in November,” explained Bechard. “Elliot sat in one of these meeting and said, 'I think that we should be a couple of things' and this was one of his suggestions … to really think big and do something that would really challenge what we think our limits are.”
Challenging their own personal limits may be an understatement. Aside from the obvious physical toll that such a feat requires, it also demanded meticulous planning from Grenier and another rower, Nikko Northrup.
The team organized a spreadsheet which dictated the amount of time each team member would spend active. In order to qualify for the challenge, the wheel of the ergometer must be kept continually spinning.
Therefore, the schedule is not just a suggestion — it is a specific, planned to the second, guideline for how this group can achieve their goal.
The team of 10 has divided about 65 hours of rowing between themselves. Bechard explained that the team split their time into rotating two-hour shifts completed in pairs.
The current record for a small team, under-19 boys one million metre challenge is held by a team from Bethesda-Chevy Chase Crew—a high school in Washington, D.C—with a time of 65 hours, 35 minutes and 19.3 seconds.
As of 11 a.m. on Monday morning, about 14 hours into the challenge, the team was on pace for breaking the world record. The team’s progress can be followed on their Facebook livestream. The team’s fundraising efforts can be supported on their Go Fund Me.