The T. C. Williams varsity eight crew spent American Independence Day quietly in Britain, making visits to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral between the usual twice-daily practices that have characterized its two-week swing through Europe.
The Titans from Alexandria, Va., will save their celebrations for Sunday, if they are fortunate enough to capture the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for high school crews here at the Henley Royal Regatta on the River Thames. They will start their quest Thursday morning agaist Clonmel High School from Belfast, in a first round match among the field of 16.
Georgetown University also beings its chase of the Visitor's Challenge Cup for straight fours with a battle against Isis Boat Club, a pseudonym for Oxford University, Thursday morning.
Usually boisterous and sometimes overconfident, the Williams crew has been unusally subdued on this trip, which started with a week in Belgium and competition in the Amsterdam International regatta before arriving at Henly. Coach Jon Butler, however, sees the fear he detects as a blessing in disguise.
"They're pretty serious. They're all scared to death right now." Butler said.
"They're just afraid, which is a good thing to be. You're always worried about technical things, but I think the minds have been the biggest problem. Actually, it's been nice to have some calmness in the group."
The tour has been a large success for the Titans. The first week was spent in an elaborate training facility in Dudgele, Belgium, with rowing done in nearby Brugge. Their two-a-day practices were rewarded when they beat the Belgain national junior team in a pair of unofficial 1,000-meter races.
"Everybody's really gotton serious over here," coxswain Sean McGowan said. "Once you're over here, you get a whole different outlook. You have to be serious if you're going to race here."
The Titans finished fourth in Amsterdam in an open field with an age limit of 23.
"The rowing in Europe has made a big impression on us. It's nothing like America," McGowan said. It's improved us a great deal. . . . We've worked hard on European starts. They go right out hard. They don't save anything all right. Everybody [from Williams] is a bit more inspired over here."
"They're looking very good. The time we spent in Belgium really helped," Butler said. "dudeled is a town of about 800 so we spent the time pretty cloistered. Rowed twice a day. Got plenty of sleep."
Henly might be an odd place to find the crew that finished seventh and last in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in May on the Schuylkill in Philadelphia. But the crew, which was undefeated to that point, redeemed itself the next weekend with a secondplace finish to powerful Ridley College High School of St. Catherines, Ontario, in the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta at St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Del.
The Williams crew consists, from bow to stern, of Andy Johnson, Mark Michalowski, John Million, Alex Audilet, Kevin Michalowski, George Nalls, Jerrell Darkow, stroke Steve Slough and McGowan.
The Georgetown tour of bowman Mark Wessell, Peter Radell, David McAneny and stroke Jim Costello represent the university for its first appearance in international rowing competition [Williams rowed at Henley in 1973]. The remnants of the Hoyas varsity eight takes on a new look in a new boat for their debut.