ACRA Championships Update

Gainesville, Georgia

The team faced some tough competition at this year's ACRA championships. In the V4 the team took 4th just behind Minnesota sending them to reps later that evening. In their second race of the day the V4 pulled hard for a 3rd place finish. Due to thunderstorms that started Saturday evening and carried on into Sunday morning the V4's final race was cancelled. The V2x placed 2nd in their heat allowing them to move directly to A finals on Sunday where they came in 7th, close behind Chicago.

The two novice boats left it all on the water over the course of the weekend. The 2N8 raced for lanes on Saturday where they took a clear first place. The 1N8 qualified for B finals after a third place finish behind Virginia in the morning's heat and coming in 0.3 seconds behind Georgia in reps. On Sunday the 2N8 brought home some hardware pulling a third place finish in A finals. The 1N8 came in 2nd just a second behind UCLA.

The 2V8 took 3rd in the morning heat which led to another boat sent to reps. Later that evening, the boat took 2nd in its race which qualified them for B finals where they ultimately took 1st pulling away from UC Davis.

The 1V8 had a total of 4 races over the course of the weekend. After a time trial in less than ideal racing conditions the 1V8 took 10th and moved on to reps later that day. In reps the boat came in 1st with an almost 4 second lead over Minnesota. On Sunday morning the 1V8 was headed semis where a 5th place finish, less than a second behind Delaware, sent the team to B finals. In its last race of the regatta the 1V8 fought hard for a 6th place finish, 0.2 seconds behind UC Davis. Overall the weekend left the team ready for a summer of training hard and getting faster for next year's season.

Special thanks to all of the parents and friends that came out to support the team over the course of the regatta. We hope to see you in the fall!


SIRA Championships Update

Oak Ridge, TN

The Team traveled down to Melton Lake in Tennessee early on Thursday morning to do some practice laps on the course in preparation for Friday and Saturday racing. The Irish sent six boats to SIRAs: 1V8, 2V8, V4, 2x, 1N8, and 2N8. Friday consisted of time trials to determine which boats went to semifinals and which did not. The 1V8, 2V8, V4, and 1N8 qualified for semifinals, and the 2x and 2N8 qualified for their grand finals. Saturday morning began with the semifinals. The 1N8 qualified for petites, and the 2V8 inched out North Carolina to make grands. The 1V8 and V4 both qualified for their petite finals. In the afternoon, the 2x fought hard to a 5th place finish their grand final, the 1N8 placed 2nd in their petite final, the 2V8 placed 6th in their grand final, the V4 placed second in their petite final, and the 1V8 placed 3rd in their petite final. The highlight of the day was the 2N8 coming in 2nd in their grand final, bringing home some hardware. 

All in all, it was a weekend of learning and experience for the Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team. The Team looks to continue training and getting faster in preparation for MACRAs on April 30th in east Cincinnati.

Special thanks to all parents and friends that came out to support us this past weekend! We hope to see you all at our coming regattas.


San Diego Crew Classic 2017 Update

San Diego, CA

The Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team made its annual trip to San Diego for the Crew Classic this past weekend, but this trip was different in regards to all previous San Diego trips--this was a business trip for both boats. The 1V8 and 2V8 were the two boats that made the trip. We arrived in San Diego on Friday for a few practice runs on the bay, and the night consisted of boat meetings, relaxation, and homework. The 1V8 raced first on Saturday morning and placed second, qualifying for Sunday's grand final just behind the University of British Columbia. The 2V8 raced later and placed fourth in their heat, qualifying for the petite final.

On Sunday, the 2V8 placed fourth in their petite final, beating UCLA and Orange Coast College and finishing just behind ACRA-rival UC Santa Barbara. The 1V8 raced a few hours later in a close grand final. Also in their grand final were Grand Valley State and Orange Coast College, two teams that routinely make the grand final at ACRAs. The Irish emptied their tanks and placed fourth in the grand final, just two-tenths of a second behind third-place UC San Diego. The 1V8 beat all other club teams in the competition, including GVSU and OCC. 

Up to this point in the season, the 1V8 has beaten four out of the eight teams that made the grand final last year at ACRAs. The Team returns to South Bend to continue working towards our goal: improving our ACRA finishes from last year.

The Team is exceptionally grateful to all parents and friends of the team that were able to provide food, drinks, and encouragement over the weekend! It was moving to see the selflessness and generosity emitted by the Notre Dame Family in San Diego. Special thanks to the Notre Dame Club of San Diego for providing a tent and food along the race course!

The Fighting Irish continue their 2017 campaign on April 14th at SIRAs in Oak Ridge, TN. 


Tri-Dual Against Purdue, Marietta, and Cincinnati Results

Indianapolis, IN

The Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team arrived in Indianapolis on Friday night to prepare for the first sprint race of the spring season.  The Team competed all day Saturday against quality ACRA competition--Cincinnati and Purdue both qualified for the Grand Final at ACRA in 2016. 

Saturday was refreshingly warm, but provided a stiff headwind down the course. The original schedule planned three races for each boat, but was soon abbreviated to two races per boat to account for the increasing wind. Highlights from the day included the 1V8 winning the 1V8 category (def. Purdue, Marietta, Cincinnati), the 2V8 winning the 2V8 category, and the 1N8 and 2N8 beating Cincinnati. 

The success from this past weekend is indicative of the speed present in the Irish boats this year. The Irish look to continue this theme of success at the San Diego Crew Classic this weekend and then in Oak Ridge, TN at SIRAs on April 14th & 15th.

Special thanks to all parents and friends of Notre Dame Men's Rowing who were able to be at the race this past weekend! We hope to see you at more races throughout the spring.


The Coach Kurt Butler

On Saturday, February 11th, the current team and family and friends of Coach Kurt Butler gathered at the McConnell Family Boathouse for a surprise dedication in his honor; the team recently purchased a Vespoli VHP 8+ to be named the "Coach Kurt Butler". Gathered around the new boat, past rowers who had been coached by Kurt Butler recounted countless memories, speaking of Butler's fiery passion, his commitment to the development of the whole individual, and his love of Notre Dame Rowing. 

Kurt Butler coached the Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team from Fall 2001 to Spring 2012; under his leadership, the V8, 2V8, N8, and 2N8 medalled at the ACRA National Championship Regatta. Most importantly, Coach Butler was able to grow the team immensely--his final year of coaching at Notre Dame featured four eights. 

From the perspective of someone who had never met Coach Butler prior to Saturday's dedication, it was remarkable to witness how many lives Coach Butler impacted. From the stories of his past rowers, it was evident that he was much more than just a coach to an extraordinary amount of people. It was an honor for the team to be able to name our new shell after such an outstanding individual. 

The Coach Kurt Butler 

The Coach Kurt Butler 

From left to right, Matt DiDonato ('17), Marcus Fennessy ('18), Coach Kurt Butler, Coach Mike Lehmann, Coach Nick Springer, Coach Zach Stackhouse, and Bill Bloebaum ('17)

From left to right, Matt DiDonato ('17), Marcus Fennessy ('18), Coach Kurt Butler, Coach Mike Lehmann, Coach Nick Springer, Coach Zach Stackhouse, and Bill Bloebaum ('17)

Winter Training Trip Wrap-Up

Gainesville, GA

Twenty-four rowers and three coxswains arrived in Georgia on Monday, January 9th for some practice time on the water. Coach Mike Lehmann and Coach Nick Springer had a specific practice schedule designed for the five days we were there: two-a-days filled with plenty of steady states, drills, and pieces. In these five days, the team would be out on the water for nine practices. The first day on the water was a gorgeous day, and the Irish got rolling. As the week progressed, the Irish rowers continued to lock in their technique and focus on connecting throughout the entirety of the stroke. 

The University of Virginia Men's Rowing Team was also on Lake Lanier for their winter training trip, and we enjoyed a few friendly scrimmages with them. All in all, it was an exceptionally productive week in Gainesville. The Irish have since returned to South Bend for the second academic semester and are in the erg gym for the remainder of the winter season. 

Special thanks to the Frese Family for hosting us for dinner on Friday! 


The first of many "Feats of Greatness" was installed over break, where the three cabins competed to start a fire (in their respective wood burning stove) that could sustain a log with a diameter of two inches. One cabin thrived, one cabin struggled, one cabin was accused of fraud, and fun was had by all. Pictured above are Zachary Hamar (left) and Matt DiDonato (right), from the victorious cabin 2. 

The first of many "Feats of Greatness" was installed over break, where the three cabins competed to start a fire (in their respective wood burning stove) that could sustain a log with a diameter of two inches. One cabin thrived, one cabin struggled, one cabin was accused of fraud, and fun was had by all. Pictured above are Zachary Hamar (left) and Matt DiDonato (right), from the victorious cabin 2. 

The team tests out its new drone on Day 2 in Georgia

Bald Eagle Collegiate Invite Update

Indianapolis, IN

On November 5th, the Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team traveled to Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis to race against some fast competitors, including teams that annually place at ACRAs: Michigan, Virginia, Grand Valley State, and Purdue. Blessed with moderate temperature and smooth water, the Fighting Irish raced hard and brought medals back to South Bend. Highlights of the day included the D pair placing third in the Men's 2- event, the third varsity eight placing second in the Men's 8+ C event, and the first varsity eight placing fourth in the Mens 8+ A event ahead of Grand Valley State and Purdue. 

The team is enjoying the last few days of practice on the St. Joe River before heading indoors for erg season. Be sure to check out the gallery section of the website to see pictures of your favorite rowers!


The 52nd Head of the Charles Results

Boston, MA

Building off a 2015 victory in the Collegiate 4+ event, the Irish returned to Boston as Bow #1 for the same event. Bill Bloebaum (4), Matt DiDonato (3), Seth Tautges (2), Jim Stewart (1), and Katie Egan (c) made up this year's championship-caliber boat. While the focus of Notre Dame Men's Rowing is the ACRA National Championship Regatta, the Head of the Charles Regatta is the largest and one of the most impressive Regattas in the world, and as such the ND 4+ trained tirelessly in pursuit of victory there. 

Also in competition for the Irish was the Notre Dame Men's Alumni 8+, comprised of Sam Hocking (8, ND '15), Alex Kessler (7, ND '16) , Austin Hickman (6, ND '16), Coach Nick Springer (5, ND '09) , Mike Lutkus (4, ND' 08), John Kearns (3, ND '15), Nick Kluesner (2, ND '08), Nick Catella (1, ND '06), and Coach Mike Lehmann (c, ND '10).  The Alumni 8+ is a very competitive event, and it was fun to see some of our beloved alumni dust off the oars and, once again, row for the Irish! The Alumni 8+ raced Saturday and finished 30th out of 50 teams. 

The 4+ raced on Sunday but arrived in Boston on Friday to give the crew a practice run on the historically difficult Charles course. On Sunday, the conditions were exceptionally tough: 25 mph crosswinds and headwinds with gusts of up to 35 mph. The Irish began with the lead and never looked back. Coxswain Katie Egan ran a tight course and each rower poured themselves into the 4,800 meter race, pulling away from bow #2 Virginia with each stroke. In the end, the Fighting Irish finished an impressive 5th, six-tenths of a second away from third place. 

The Irish are back in action on Saturday, November 5th in Indianapolis, IN against the likes of Virginia, Purdue, Michigan, and Grand Valley State.


Notre Dame to Build off of Head of the Rock

Rockford, IL

The Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team gathered early Sunday morning and traveled to the iconic Rock River in Rockford, IL for the Head of the Rock. Competing against the likes of Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, and MSOE, the Varsity began its day racing in the Collegiate 2- event and the Collegiate 4+ event. Three out of the four Irish pairs finished in the top five, and sophomores Braeden Benedict and Nick Dedo brought home some hardware with an impressive third place finish. Adding to the Irish medal count, the first Varsity 4+ finished second in their event,  while the other two Notre Dame fours finished in the back half of the group. The Novice entered three boats into the Collegiate Novice 8+ event, and the first novice 8+ finished fourth, just one second behind Minnesota. The Novice also entered a 4+, which finished in third place. Afternoon racing saw 5 more Irish eights in competition. The varsity entered three boats in the Collegiate 8+ event, and the 1V8 finished fourth, only a half-second off from Minnesota (2nd) and Michigan B (3rd). The Novice also entered two boats in the Open 8+ event, and they raced hard and finished strong. 

The Head of the Rock was a promising start to the 2016-2017 season; while many boats brought home hardware, all boats represented the University of Notre Dame well and gained a better understanding of the work ethic and commitment needed to row at an elite level. 

The team is exceptionally appreciative of all the parents and friends of the club that supported us in Rockford on Sunday!  All of the food, gatorade, good smells, and great cheers from the shore only added to the experience; we raced better having you all there! The next race will be the Head of the Charles where the Irish V4+ looks to repeat as Champions of the Collegiate 4+ event!


Notre Dame Ends the Season at ACRA Championships

The University of Notre Dame Men's Rowing Team arrived in Gainesville, GA four days prior to the ACRA Championship. Filling days with practice, relaxation, hydration, and a little Georgian R&R, they grew anxious and prepared for the weekend's racing.  On Saturday, the 2N8 qualified for their lane in the grand final, the 1N8 competed in an exciting repechage to beat Boston College and qualify for their grand final, the 2V8 qualified for their petite final, and the 1V8 battled in tough heats and qualified for the C final.  

Sunday's finals action featured tough Irish racing.  The 2N8 raced hard and placed fourth in their grand final.  The 1N8 was in contention right up to the finish line and fought to a salutary 8th place in their grand final. The 2V8 walked back on New Hampshire in the final 20 strokes to win their petite final. In a show of dominance, the 1V8 lead their entire race and won by open water. 

Below are two reflections written by Notre Dame Oarsmen.

After a week of practicing in South Bend, the team travelled to Gainesville, Georgia for ACRA. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday consisted of morning practice followed by afternoon rest in preparation for competition over the weekend. ACRA was held at a beautiful venue. With fantastic fan support, the team enjoyed food, hospitality and time with family. Former rowers and family members made the event a fun experience. The weather was perfect and the conditions on the water were ideal. The trip to Georgia was a great chance to bond with team members and compete for national championships. Unfortunately, the team did not perform up to its own expectations. Although effort and focus were fully present, no boat was satisfied with its final performance. As the season drew to a close, Coach Mike called the team together. His words were simple, but they rang true, “In order to compete at the level that our boats are capable of, every member of the team needs to put in more work.” The team learned from the experience and spirits were high heading into a summer of erging, lifting and preparing for a successful ACRA next season. 

- Peter Witty '19


Being on the Notre Dame Men’s Rowing team has been one of the most difficult but rewarding things I have ever done. I have given a lot of myself to Notre Dame Rowing: countless hours at practice, weekends traveling to races, waking up early to get in extra workouts, and days in the stadium installing seats for fundraising. However, I have received so much more in return than I have given. Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to places like Boston, San Diego, and Oak Ridge for amazing regattas, but these experiences are not what I take away from rowing. I will remember the daily grind on the St. Joe River - the commitment that my teammates and I made to be our best every day. There is not much glory in rowing; even when you win a race, not many people will remember it besides the teammates you crossed the finish line with. But, when you find a group of people willing to give so much of themselves for little recognition because they see the value in working hard and having each other’s back, that is the reward. That is truly special, and I am lucky to have found that in Notre Dame Rowing.


- Mike Zaleski '16


Finally, congratulations to Seth Tautges who was named to the ACRA All-Freshman Team and to Matt DiDonato who was named to the ACRA 2nd All-American Team. Additional congratulations to the Zaleski Family who was voted this year's recipient of the Nye Award. The Nye Award is voted on by the team and recognizes a non-team member who has contributed in an exceptional way to the benefit of the team. That said, the team would like to thank all parents and friends of the team that helped make this season memorable; having you at regattas throughout the fall and spring was incredibly meaningful!