First, the social news since the 1984 Olympics. Joan Lind, silver medal winner for the United States in single sculls in the '76 Games and a member of the quadruple sculls with coxswain that finished second last year at Lake Casitas, and John Van Blom, four-time Olympian who turned coach last year, have married.
So have Tiff Wood and rower Kristy Aserlind. Wood, 32, was captain of the '80 U.S. Olympians, but only made the '84 squad as an alternate and says he's retiring. So is Lind, also 32.
Rowing retirements have a way of being announced and then reneged on during the four years between Olympiads, but these two expect to stick. So do a number of others, which means that the Americans may be hard-pressed to even match their medal production of '84, when the '88 Games are held in Seoul.
The output last year consisted of a gold, three silvers and a bronze for the men and a gold and two silvers for the women.
The men's total was the most by Americans since 1928 at Amsterdam. The gold by the women's eight was the first ever for U.S. females in the Games. A third of that boat--Jeanne Flanagan, Kris Thorsness and Betsy Beard, the 93-pound coxswain--won't be back.
Bob Ernst, the University of Washington coach who coached the women's eight, did not strike a high note while discussing the prospects for '88.
"The women's program is disorganized this year," Ernst said. "There's a new committee and a new staff. There's not much funding, but that's no excuse for being disorganized. There's no reason for it, except that we operate in a democratic and political environment, and this is what you get under those circumstances.
"A lot of people want to take credit for the athletes and the coaches, and then the people who did the real work get forgotten. The men's program is much more organized than the women. They've kept Kris (Korzeniowski, the men's sweeps coach) on year round, and that makes for continuity. But I still have confidence in the women. I think we'll have access to just as much material as we had at Lake Casitas, only they won't be as experienced."
Despite funds from Hunt-Wesson Foods backing the U.S. Olympic rowing teams last year, the sport's coffers are not deep. A marketing firm has been hired to develop a sponsor for '88. Rowing funds are currently so short that the members of the women's doubles boat will be asked to pay their own way to Hazewinkel, Belgium, for the World Championships that start on Aug. 26.
If the Soviet Union and the East Germans, who boycotted the '84 Games, return in '88, all of their rivals will have to be better. The Soviets and East Germans are also factors on the men's side, but don't enjoy the dominance of their women's squads. Last year, eight different countries won the eight men's gold medals, an unprecedented outcome in the Games.
In women's sculling, only two U.S. Olympians, Anne Marden and Ginny Gilder, are definitely continuing the sport. Marden and Gilder were members of the Lind boat that finished behind Romania for a silver.
While the men's eight will have Korzeniowski coaching again, it's possible that Harry Parker, the Harvard legend for more than 20 years, will not be coaching the Olympic scullers.
The year 1984 was not the best of years for Parker. He felt his Harvard oarsmen suffered because of his attention to the Olympic team. And Brad Alan Lewis and Paul Enquist, virtual outcasts at Parker's pre-Olympic sculling camp, formed their own doubles boat, beat Parker's hand-picked camp boat at the Trials and won the gold medal at Lake Casitas.
Lewis, who finished second, less than a second behind John Biglow, in last year's Trials, is determined to be in Seoul as America's hope in the singles. Biglow, who is at Dartmouth Medical School, first said rowing was behind him after finishing fourth in the Olympics, but friends say he is wavering.
Biglow is 27, Lewis 30. They are not far enough along in years to let their rivalry end. Pertti Karppinen, Finland's 6-7 singles star, won his third straight gold, tying a record, in '84, but he will be 35 by '88.