Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Following historical regular season and postseason performances, the University of Iowa rowing program is upping the ante this offseason, leaving Sunday for a three-week excursion to Europe to test its mettle against some of the best teams in the world.
Iowa’s first and second Varsity Eight boats will compete in a minimum of three races in England and Amsterdam starting June 22-29 at the Henley Women’s Regatta.
The Hawkeyes race at the Holland Becker in Amsterdam on June 30, and, depending on their performances at the Henley Women’s Regatta, one or both crews will race at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta, a centuries old competition on the River Thames from July 4-8.
“This is an opportunity to educate our kids on the sport they are a part of and let them see that in other parts of the world, it’s the premier event of the summer,” said Iowa head coach Andrew Carter. “It’s one of the four big events that goes on in Britain. They have the Royal Ascot horse race, Wimbledon, The Open Championships, and Henley.”
Horseracing, tennis, golf, and rowing; known as the English Season in Great Britain, where the social scenes rival those of the Rose Bowl and Kentucky Derby in the United States. The Henley Royal is a place to be seen, and this year the rowing elites will be fashioned with Tigerhawks.
Carter says the world is ready for it, and the Hawkeyes have earned the opportunity.
“The trajectory of the program is something that deserves acknowledging,” Carter said. “So to do something extraordinary to reflect the extraordinary work that they’ve done is appropriate.”
Iowa is three weeks removed from the 2018 NCAA Championships, an event that saw a record-breaking performance tie a bow around a record-breaking season.
The Hawkeyes have earned respect on the national rowing scene, and a trip to Europe is an opportunity to present themselves to another audience.
“We are now at a standard of performance where we can, with confidence, put our brand on the international stage, so that when prospects from outside of the U.S. are considering the United States for school, they can look at Iowa and understand that it is actually viable,” Carter said. “They will be able to say, ‘I’ve watched them race and beat some crews, I had no idea it was that standard.'”
Carter says the timing is right for Iowa. In the past, invitations sent to the Hawkeyes were returned with regrets, but this year makes sense. Iowa has the talent to compete, and the student-athletes committed to the path of the program.
“I know foreign tours often get used as cultural experiences and one of those things we’re able to do for student- athletes to educate them beyond the sport and what they experience in the classroom, but for us, this is absolutely a high performance and branding effort,” Carter said.
“We’ll have excursions, so there will be a cultural component to what we do, but by and large this is a focused, high-performance effort. We will be going against some of the best in the world.”
Fans can follow the Hawkeyes’ trip on Twitter (@iowarowing) and Instagram @Iowa_Rowing. The Henley Royal Regatta race is streamed live on YouTube.