In its 28th season, the Dublin high school club rowing program is now being directed by a person long associated with the sport.

Chris Swartz, who coached the Upper Arlington boys team for 22 years before stepping down in 2015, is heading what Dublin Crew is calling the “Central Ohio Rowing” program, with the idea that athletes throughout the area are welcome to join the club.

During the fall season, Dublin had an athlete from Jackson who traveled more than an hour to be a part of the team. Dublin opened spring competition April 13 at the Cincinnati Invitational on Harsha Lake in Bethel.

“After retiring from teaching and coaching at Upper Arlington High School in 2015, I became bored very quickly,” Swartz said. “After a year in Florida at a private school, I came home and found that the Dublin program needed new direction. This newly minted ‘Central Ohio Rowing’ program, which begins formal operation this summer, will become one of the premier youth rowing programs in the country. Our goal is to have at least 120 kids rowing with us by 2021. To reach that goal, we need rowers and potential rowers who have not yet found their sport or who are looking for a unique way to get fit, be competitive and become a champion.”

Dublin also will be competing in the Hoover Regatta on Saturday, April 20, the Laddie Cup on May 4 at Orchard Lake in St. Mary’s, Michigan, and the Midwest Junior Rowing Championships on May 18 on Harsha Lake.

USRowing Youth Nationals will be held June 6-9 at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida.

Swartz is looking to senior Craig Hammon and sophomore Jacob Rudolph of the boys team and senior Taylor Preston and junior Sarah Duff of the girls team to be among his leaders this spring.

The other seniors on the boys team are Jordan Ansari, Jackson Beggs, Charles Jones and Rain Juhl, while the other seniors for the girls are Cam Heider, Rachel Smith, Nithya Vadakattu and Ally Younkman.

Last season in the Midwest meet, Dublin was fourth (7 minutes, 58.956 seconds) and sixth (8:52.112) in the boys varsity 2 competition as the top three boats advanced to nationals.

“The program has always had good kids rowing for it, but they need to be refocused if they want to continue a former tradition of competitive success,” Swartz said. “The parents and most of the kids who rowed with us last fall have fully embraced the changes. We hired coaches with a stronger background in competitive team management and also ones who understand what it takes to compete at a higher level.”

Westerville looks for another strong season

The Westerville club team had six boats and more than 20 athletes travel to USRowing Youth Nationals last June, with three boats finishing in the top 10.

Among the top returnees are Westerville Central senior Brigid Haugh, Genoa Christian senior Maddie Kirwin and New Albany junior Aenea Keren of the girls team.

“We do have some strong returners,” second-year coach Allison Sobiech said. “The kids put in a lot of work and it’s paying off now that we’re back on the water. While there is still a lot of work to be done, I believe that we’re going to have a successful season. We currently have a large varsity team with more than three 8s of varsity men and four-and-a-half 8s of varsity women. The novice teams are a little smaller with just under two 8s apiece.”

Westerville, which opened at the Cincinnati Invitational on April 13, will be host to the Hoover Regatta on Saturday, April 20.

The club then will compete in the Dogwood Junior Championships on April 27 and 28 on Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Other top rowers include Dublin Jerome senior Kethan Manakkal, St. Charles senior Phillip Wible, New Albany junior Noah Tobin, Westerville Central junior Grant Holliday and Westerville North junior Ethan Bruss on the boys team and New Albany junior Katie Ryan on the girls squad.

Last season at youth nationals on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, California, Haugh sat in the 4 seat, Keren was in the 2 seat and Kirwin was in the 8 seat of the girls varsity 8 boat that was 22nd (6:57.119) in its first time trial and fifth (7:38.726) in its next qualifying race to fall short of advancing to the finals.

Kirwin also teamed with 2018 New Albany graduate Tori Cooke on a girls 2 boat that placed ninth (8:18.426).

Westerville’s boys 4 boat (8:01.865) and boys 2 boat (7:27.238) both finished eighth. Its boys lightweight 8 and boys varsity 8 boats also competed.

“(We want) to grow the program, build our team’s depth and improve across the board, novice through varsity,” Sobiech said. “We aim to provide as many of our athletes as possible the chance to compete for a chance at the medal stand at the Midwest (Junior Rowing Championships) and move on to USRowing Youth Nationals.”

Arch City looks to build on fall season

The Arch City Rowing club also opened April 13 at the Cincinnati Invitational and will compete in the Hoover Regatta on Saturday, April 20, and the Dogwood Junior Championships on April 27 and 28.

In the Midwest Junior Rowing Championships last year, Arch City’s girls 1st varsity 4 boat stroked by Olentangy Liberty junior Sarah Haney finished fifth (7:35.316).

There are about 35 competitors in the program this spring.

“Our training went well over the winter and into the spring,” coach Dave Ferris said. “Erg scores are all fairly respectable and the kids worked hard. They’re all excited to race.”

Seniors on the girls team are Thomas Worthington’s Samantha Mazza, Olentangy’s Morgan Zahner, Dublin Coffman’s Elizabeth Krueger, Delaware’s Val Keller and Gahanna’s Alexandra Fant.

Zahner and Keller have committed to Ohio State, Mazza will compete for Virginia, Krueger will compete for Indiana and Fant will compete for San Diego.

Other top girls include Olentangy Liberty junior Sarah Haney, Olentangy Orange sophomores Zoe Lyon, Marlee Martin and Abby Robinson, Thomas sophomore Allie Huckins and DeSales sophomore Megan Cherichello, who is a coxswain.

Among the top boys rowers are Olentangy sophomores Collin Elbert and Max Zahner and Veritas Academy senior David Spurlock.

“Our (boys) team is growing slowly but surely, and our girls team remains strong,” Ferris said. “The guys are continuing to build, and our goal is to be competitive in pairs and 4s. We’d like to see the girls build up to a bid for USRowing Youth Nationals. Competition is stiff in the Midwest region, so the girls know they have their work cut out for them.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek