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The Inside Track

Rowing Course Fails in Test Run

August 07, 2003|From Associated Press

SCHINIAS, Greece — Test events for next year's Olympics got off to a worrisome start Wednesday when rowers tried to stay afloat as waves swamped boats and forced the U.S. team to swim across the finish line.

The eight-man American team abandoned its craft about 400 yards from the finish line of the 1.2-mile course, fearing the boat could sink with water filling the hull. The team swam across the line, towing the boat to remain in the competition.

"It was like you were rowing in the ocean," team member Stephen Newark said.

The World Junior Rowing Championships are among a series of important tests to assess any changes needed before the 2004 Athens Games. The competition was moved two hours earlier to 6:30 a.m. to try to avoid the winds that normally intensify during the day.

In the next race, the leading British eight abandoned its sinking craft and did not finish. The team will have a second chance to remain in the four-day competition in heats planned for today.

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