Guennadi and Elena Bratichko came to Capital 25 years ago and are the club’s longest-running coaches. Guennadi had formally coached the Russian junior men’s team, and Elena was on the Russian national team, competing at the 1980 Olympics (watch her in lane 1, 2 seat). Their decision to coach that Capital, when it was young and less competitive, and their long-term dedication to Capital have made made a huge impact on the growth of the entire club.
Capital has significantly changed since 1994/95, when Elena and I started coaching here. Back then, we were not sending crews to national-level competitions like Masters Nationals and Head of the Charles River on regular basis. The first year we went to Masters Nationals was in 1997: a small group of rowers went to Long Beach, California, winning two medals, a gold and a silver.
Since then, the number of rowers competing at Masters Nationals has continued to grow along with the number of medals we have won and overall team placement. The biggest change is that we have a steady flow of rowers joining the competitive program from our own club programs. At one of the recent Head of the Charles River we had five rowers in our women’s eight that learned to row at Capital!
Our vision for Capital is to improve everyday training and grow the club’s team system, which introduces new athletes to rowing and provides them with the necessary foundation to move onto more technical and competitive programs, if they are interested. It allows us to grow our own talents and bring in new rowing enthusiasts to our program.
The greatest strength—and best asset—of Capital is its people. We love working with people who share our love and commitment to the sport.
To celebrate our 30th anniversary year, we are running stories about Capital’s past, present, and future. In our inaugural post, Juniors rower and Captain Leon Bi reflects on the difference Capital has made to him.
Splash. Gulp. Splash. My body ached as I ungracefully pushed myself through the water.
At age seven, I started swimming at a competitive swim club. Despite practicing hours every day, I made little progress. Each practice was a reminder that others, who started even earlier, were physically more developed and received extra encouragement from coaches. After three years of feeling insignificant and insecure, I quit.
At age twelve, my life changed when I joined Capital Rowing Club. I was a scrawny kid with a history of feeling inadequate. Yet the team welcomed me to be a part of something greater. Capital’s mission is to offer the sport of rowing to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and fitness levels. Although our team initially appeared to be a hodgepodge of students from across the DC area, we bonded closely. Our differences were vast, but on the water we were equals who believed in each other, striving to row together in perfect unison. Through Capital, I gained the confidence I needed to shape myself into the person I wanted to be.
Capital took me in and believed in me when I had little faith in myself. In crew, the team is only as strong as the weakest link. I started as the weakest link, but my team always encouraged me. Looking back as Captain now, I am grateful for the chance Capital took on me years ago and hope to inspire others to reimagine the way they see themselves.
Owing to people’s lack of knowledge of what rowing entails, there is always a necessity for correcting misconceptions now and again. In addressing these erroneous beliefs comes this podcast titled Dispelling Rowing Myths. The 5 seconds shy of 5 minutes podcast is a collection of interviews of rowers ranging from a junior to an olympian. This collection of interviews include interview of the club’s Membership Vice President, Toni Kerns. The podcast is produced by the club’s Blind Magic Dammie Onafeko, A graduating senior majoring in Audio Production at Howard University, Washington – DC.
From the parent of a 1st year rower after 1 year with Capital Juniors:
“THANK YOU TREMENDOUSLY.
My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 9.
For the past couple years, my son attended a private special education middle school in Maryland along with participating in a host of therapeutic intervention. When we discovered Capital Rowing, my son tried the sport without hesitation. You made him feel welcomed from the start and helped him build confidence in his athletic ability, become comfortable on the water, and work on social skills.
While participating in Capital, my son became less awkward and more independent and self aware. It’s the first time I have ever seen him so dedicated to a sport.
He always looked forward to attending practices, I never had to remind him to attend rowing.
I consider CRC and rowing part of my son’s therapy, growth and development. My son has successfully transitioned out of special education and will complete High School in a mainstream school.
He is also looking forward to continuing to row, hopefully on varsity one day. Thank you again for doing what you do so well. Capital Rowing Juniors was far more than just a sport for my son. I believe in the Nigerian Proverb, made popular by Hillary Clinton, ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child.’ Please know that Capital Rowing was and will always remain a part of my son’s village.”