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By pmallory - Posted on 11 April 2014

11 April 2014

The 2014 San Diego Crew Classic last weekend was an opportunity for me to look back with tremendous affection and nostalgia. It was precisely 40 years ago that I first participated in this storied regatta. Back in 1974, there were small boats as well as eights, and I won the lightweight singles event by open water.

I remember spending the previous night curled up in my sleeping bag under the hedge outside the room at the Bahia Hotel where they had put the scale. I literally woke up, wiped the sleep from my eyes, walked 10 feet and weighed in . . . and I was quite relieved because I was coaching, too, and with everything going on that week I had completely forgotten to pay attention to what I was eating, and on the way down to San Diego the previous day I had stopped in Oceanside and had a big plate of fish and chips!

In addition, during that year of 1974 my Long Beach State Lightweight Men's Crew began their racing season by winning their event at the San Diego Crew Classic, soundly beating defending champion UCLA, which had lost only once before in the entire history of their program. My crew finished their racing season never beaten, never headed and Western Champion, a race they won by open water over the University of Washington on Burnaby Lake in Vancouver, British Columbia.

This past weekend, that 1974 Long Beach State Crew of mine had its 40th Reunion, coming back to the San Diego Crew Classic from all over the country. One man came all the way from Australia. We had a Friday get-together, a Saturday dinner and a Sunday row-by in throwback shirts in front of the Crew Classic crowd and on the Jumbotron.

This was a crew from the time when men were made of steel and boats and oars were made of wood, and most of them had not been near a shell in 40 years. They found the current equipment absolutely fascinating.

This special team made a lot of friends during the spring and summer of 1974. The following year in 1975 I put together and rowed 3-seat in a men’s lightweight coxed-four made up of members of our extended family, and we won the Crew Classic as well.

Last weekend, this boat also came back to participate in the LBSU 40th Reunion and have our own 39th Reunion and row-by.

It was a magical crew back then, and it was indescribable to recapture some of that magic by climbing back into a boat with these forever teammates and forever friends.

Last weekend was an opportunity for my present Loyola Marymount University Men's Crew not to look back but to look forward. I had done them no favors by experimenting with a different load on our oars for the Crew Classic, and it turned to out to slow us down mightily. When they got off the water understandably disappointed, I introduced them to my 1975 four, from left to right: World Silver Medalist, World Gold Medalist, Olympic Silver Medalist, 6-time National Team Coach, World Silver Medalist, and what I said to them was:

"Take a good look. Trust me. It gets better!"

Fortunately, my rigging error has since been identified and rectified by my son and co-coach, and we are now through with eights for the rest of the spring. For our Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, we will focus on fours and pairs where our lack of depth does not handicap us quite so much, and we will continue to focus on recruiting a team like my past teams, the team that LMU deserves.

Trust me. It gets better!