New World Record Set at Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints

This article originally appeared on on Feb. 5, 2014

By Lou Zickar

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A new world indoor rowing record was set in Alexandria this past weekend at the 29th MidAtlantic Erg Sprints, which was held in the Gerry Bertier Gymnasium at T.C. Williams High School on Saturday, February 1st.

The record was set by Tom Darling of the Cambridge Boat Club in Massachusetts. Competing in the 2000 Meter race for veteran men age 55-59, Darling blasted the hinges off the previous world record by covering the distance in a time of 6:12.6, which was over six seconds faster than the previous record of 6:18.6 set by Dick Cashin in 2009.

“When you think about what Tom Darling did, it’s really quite an accomplishment,” stated Jeff Byron, the Director of the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints. “Rowing 2000 meters is the equivalent of rowing the length of a football field over 21 times, which essentially means that he was going goal line to goal line at about an 18 second clip. That is an incredible athletic achievement. It’s also another reason why indoor rowing is growing in popularity and being recognized as one of the ultimate tests of fitness and endurance in sports.”

In addition to capturing the world record, Byron said, Darling also won the right to compete in the CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championship in Boston on February 16th. Also winning the right to compete in the CRASH-Bs as a result of their performance at the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints were: Paul Siebach, who came in second behind Darling in the 2000 meter competition for veteran men age 55-59 with a time of 6:50.3; Bob Spousta, who won the 2000 meter competition for veteran men age 60-64 with a time of 6:42.8; Katherine Ashton, who won the 2000 meter open weight competition for college women with a time of 6:51.4; Eileen Ryan, who won the 2000 meter competition for veteran women age 60-64 with a time of 8:02.2; Terry Walters, who won the 2000 meter competition for veteran women age 55-59 with a time of 7:44.7; and, Catherine Coffman, who won the 2000 meter competition for veteran women age 50-54 with a time of 7:52.

The MidAtlantic Erg Sprints is the largest qualifying event for the CRASH-B Championship. First held in 1986, the Erg Sprints have also grown to become the second largest indoor rowing competition in the world, and the largest event of its kind for juniors. According to Byron, this year’s competition featured over 1,500 athletes competing on 120 ergometers that were set up on the race floor inside the Gerry Bertier Gymnasium. The athletes ranged in ages from under 10 to over 70, and included some of the top high school, club and collegiate rowers in the region.

The athletes came from such area high schools as T.C. Williams, Bishop Ireton, West Potomac, Thomas Jefferson, McLean, Yorktown, Washington-Lee, Bishop O’Connell, Lake Braddock, Langley, Loudon County, James Madison, St. Albans, Gonzaga, Georgetown Visitation, Walt Whitman, Walter Johnson, Churchill, Hylton, Oakton, Robinson, Wilson, West Springfield, Western Albemarle, Westfield, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and the Academy of the Holy Cross. Also competing were such out-of-the-area high schools as Gloucester and First Colonial from the Tidewater region of Virginia, and Saratoga Springs, whose athletes and coaches drove eight hours from New York.

The collegians who competed came from such schools as George Mason, the University of Virginia, George Washington, Mary Washington, Liberty, Catholic University, the University of North Carolina, and Duke. Also competing were rowing clubs such as Alexandria Community Rowing, Potomac Boat Club, Occoquan Boat Club, Resilient Rowing, DC Strokes, Oakton Masters Rowing, Prince William Rowing Club, Capital Rowing Club, Rock Creek Rowing, Baltimore Rowing Club, and the Annapolis Rowing Club, while fitness clubs competing included athletes from CrossFit Annandale, CrossFit Capitol Hill, and CrossFit Impavidus Endurance.

Also racing were athletes from Athletes Without Limits and the Medstar NRH Paralympic Sport Club, who competed in the adaptive rowing events. These events featured three of the nation’s top Paralympic athletes, including: Daniel Ahr, who was a member of the 2013 U.S. National Team; Paul Hurley, who was also a member of the 2013 U.S. National Team and is a World Rowing Bronze Medalist; and, Dana Fink, a member of the 2013 and 2015 U.S. Paralympic National Team who won the Bronze at the 2012 World Rowing Cup. Ahr and Fink won their events, while Hurley, in an upset, came in third behind winner Donald Balcom and runner-up Craig Clark.

For the second year in a row, the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints also featured a series of educational seminars for young athletes geared around fitness, good nutrition, and rowing in college and beyond. The seminars were led by such elite rowers as Sam Stitt, who rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is now the Varsity Lightweight Rowing Coach at Georgetown and Emma Preuschl, who won a Silver Medal as a member of the 2008 U.S. Paralympic women’s rowing team in Beijing and competed in the 2012 London games.

“Over the years,” Byron said, “we’ve made a real effort to turn the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints into a competition that’s not only a good place to test your skills as an athlete, but a good place to learn more about the sport of rowing and what it takes to be successful in crew. Thanks to the work of many people — especially our 250 volunteers — this was one of our best events yet. We look forward to holding our 30th competition next year.”

To that end, Byron announced that next year’s MidAtlantic Erg Sprints will be held on January 31, 2015. For the complete results of this year’s competition, please visit