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October 06, 1989 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-06

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Birmingham Rower Eyes
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he difference between
collegiate and inter-
national rowing com-
petition, says Birmingham's
Jon Bernstein, is "like clim-
bing a hill compared to clim-
bing Mount Everest.
"The intensity, skill and
level of competition are that
much greater" in interna-
tional compet: 'ion as com-
pared to regular U.S. col-
legiate matchups, he says.
Bernstein should know.
The captain of Harvard's
rowing team — national
champions the last two years
— is also a member of the
United States Rowing Team
which lost third place in the
World Rowing Champion-
ships this past summer by
one inch.
But those factors haven't
bothered Bernstein since
that memorable day he, as a
freshman lacrosse player at
Phillip:, Academy in An-
dover, Mass., was introduced
to the prep school's varsity
rowing team.
"They were all 6-foot-3 or.
-4," recalls Bernstein, who
wasn't anywhere near that
himself. "They asked me if I
was going to go row next
year, and I thought they
would kill me if I said no. So
I started rowing and fell in
love with the sport."
He went on to captain both
the varsity swimming and
crew teams. He graduated as
the senior with the highest
academic and athletic profi-
Now 6-3 and 200 pounds,
the 21-year-old Bernstein
and his teammates —most of
whom are in the same hand-
some, rugged mold — found
themselves featured recent-
ly in a two-page photo-
spread in Young & Modern,
a national young women's
magazine that unblushingly
lauded the "brainy, brawny
hunks of the Ivy League."
Pleasures of such new-
found fame aside, Bernstein
and Co. say the demands of
rowing make it central to
their lives. In addition to fall
and spring competitions and
workouts, the Crimson
rowers also have a regular
schedule of off-season
workouts spiced with in-
trateam competitions of
stamina and technique.
"We stay on the water un-
til Thanksgiving, then train
two hours per day, six days a
week," says Bernstein, ad-

Jon Bernstein: Luck and work.

ding sometimes the
workouts hit four hours in
the indoor facilities at Har-
vard. And there are also the
individual workouts on row-
ing machines and other
"Rowing is a sport that
directly rewards how much
effort you put into it," he
says. "This past spring, we
won races (including the
2,000-meter national title
race) based on what we had
done in the previous seven or
eight months of training in
the off-season. What it comes
down to is, we train six mon-
ths during the school year
for 16 minutes of racing.
"We train in December,
January, February and
March indoors and it's not as
exciting" because the row-
ing is simulated. "The first
time you get back in the
water in the spring, it's the
most amazing situation
because all of a sudden,
you're moving."
Working out with weights
is not the most important
aspect of rowing, says Berns-
tein. "Strength and condi-
tioning are a bigger part
than weight training and
rowing technique is even
more so.
"When it (the rowing)
looks effortless, it's really
not effortless, but that the
person that's rowing is doing
a good job. Rowing is the
ultimate team sport."
Bernstein, who swam in
the North American Youth
Maccabi Games in Detroit in
1984, was invited to this
year's World Maccabi
Games as a swimmer. But he
and his Harvard mates were
already committed to com-
peting in the 150th running
of the Henley Regatta in
England. He captained his
Crimson heavyweight eight-

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