Rowing team making a splash in the Midlands

William Smith College Rowing Coach Sandra Chu directs her team Wednesday on the Broad River.

Richland County, SC (WACH) - Below the hum of I-20 rush hour traffic you'll hear Coach Sandra Chu ushering her team into their boats for another morning of intense training.

More than two dozen athletes and coaches from the William Smith College crew team made the 22 hour bus ride from upstate New York to South Carolina where the warmer weather is more ideal for training.

"We're here to prepare for our championship season," said Chu. "We're ready to try and figure out what is our speed so we're doing some sorting, we're figuring out who the fastest athletes are."

The team begin their season against Ithaca College later this month. Since many high schools don't offer rowing most of Chuâ??s team is made up of walk-ons, including Tess Wiggins, who fell in love with the sport.

"I feel like I owe so much to rowing, it's taught me leadership, dedication, commitment and I found a new level of pushing myself further," said Wiggins. "I don't think I would have found (that) without this sport."

Each boat has eight rowers plus a Coxsn. A Coxsn sits in the back of the boat and is like a quarterback. Her job is to make sure everybody is rowing at the same pace.

Rowing or crew is popular up north, so when Chu and her team brought their boats to South Carolina they drew a lot of attention.

"The best thing is when we're driving a trailer and it's fully loaded and we stop to get gas, people just stare and then they ask questions," adds Chu. "We get to expose people to the sport."

William Smith has competed in the national championships for rowing five times since the early '90s. The team is training in Columbia through this weekend.