Yale Bulletin
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March 8-22, 1999Volume 27, Number 24

Yale rower breaks world record (for the fifth time)

Yale senior Connie Wright, a rower on the women's crew team, broke the collegiate lightweight 2,000-meter world record in the 1999 Charles River All-Stars Has-Beens Regatta (CRASH-B) on Feb. 21 in Boston.

Wright rowed 2,000 meters on the ergometer in a world record time of 7:13.7, shattering the old mark of 7:20 at the CRASH-B indoor rowing competition, considered the premier winter rowing event. The Yale rower broke the record while competing in the finals of the world championship competition, in which she finished third in the international division.

First year feat is credited. Technically, this is the fifth time that Wright has "broken" the 2,000-meter record at the CRASH-B, but this year marks the first time she has gotten credit for her feat. Each year, the rowers with the top 10 times of all competitors in the "heats" -- the qualifying competitions -- advance to the international division finals, while the top 10 college-age competitors move on to the finals in the collegiate division. As one of the top 10 in the entire field of competitors, Wright has always competed with Olympic-class rowers in the international division. For the first time this year, her rowing time in the international division finals was transferred into the collegiate category, allowing Wright to be recognized for her achievement.

"I'm really happy to finally have it on record that I broke the collegiate world record," says Wright, "especially since, as a senior, this was my last time to have the chance to do it."

Her achievement capped a long day for Wright, which, she says, "was physically and mentally draining."

Her record-setting day began when she awoke at 5 a.m. to prepare for a 6:30 a.m. weigh-in at Roxbury Track & Field. At 8 a.m., she competed in the lightweight women's heats. The finals in the international division competition didn't begin until six-and-one-half hours later.

"It is exhausting because I basically rowed the 2,000-meter once in the morning and then did it again in the afternoon, with a lot of time spent in between where I was waiting for results and trying to prepare mentally for the afternoon race," Wright says. "I think it would almost have been easier to have rowed the 2,000-meter twice in the afternoon, instead of having such a long, stretched-out day."

Wright says that she paced herself to go as slowly as possible during the heats but fast enough to still qualify for the finals, saving up energy for the big event in the afternoon. She says the support of her teammates on the crew team helped her to stay focused on what she had to do to win the record. Wright was one of 24 Yale rowers who entered the heats in the CRASH B competition, but was the only one who qualified for the finals.

Women's crew coach Chris Wilson says that with or without the support of her teammates, Wright would have broken the world record.

"Connie is absolutely one of the most driven athletes I've ever coached," she says. "She has enormous personal drive. I have no doubt she would have broken the record in the basement of her home in Fonthill, Ontario, with no one looking on."

Wright transferred to Yale after her freshman year from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. She stroked the varsity boat at various times during her junior year and was part of the junior varsity boat that finished second in the 1997 Eastern Sprints. She raced with the Ridley Boat Club in the summer of 1997 and was the Canadian Henley Champion in the lightweight pair.

During the winter months, when not on the water, Wright stays in shape for crew by working out daily on an ergometer in Payne Whitney Gymnasium. "The ergometer is the main training tool for rowers," she explains. "But doing well on it is not a measure of how good a rower you are, it's really more a measure of your physiological health."

Wright, who is majoring in biology, has gotten national attention for breaking the collegiate lightweight record, but the Trumbull College senior has not been distracted from reaching her next goal: to finish up her senior year and begin her studies in medical school next year.

-- By Susan Gonzalez


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Connie Wright, who recently broke a world record at the CRASH-B indoor rowing competition, works out daily during the winter at the Payne Whitney Gym.