Harmony, balance, and rhythm. They’re the three things that rowing teaches that stay with you your whole life.
Hiram Conibear “didn’t know one end of a boat from the other” when he was hired as Husky crew coach in 1907. His solution was to study. Working to improve the orthodox Oxford stroke, Conibear took home a skeleton from the UW Biology Department, borrowed a rowing scull seat, and placed broom handles in the skeleton’s hands. After extensive experiment, he invented the distinctive Washington stroke – short and snappy, leg-driven.
Boatbuilders George and Richard Pocock learned their craft from their father who built racing shells in England. The young men immigrated to Vancouver, B.C., and Conibear recruited them to open a new shop at UW. Experimenting with northwest wood, George Pocock adapted his designs to red cedar, and perfected construction of light, strong racing shells and oars.
Conibear’s successor, Al Ulbrickson, developed his own coaching system, taking shrewd advantage of the unique opportunities presented by each year’s crew. Under his direction, Husky rowers developed a characteristic style, laying back for much of the race and then bursting to a final explosive sprint.
And finally there were the young men in the boat, undefeated national champions who rowed together in intuitive harmony to win gold. Husky crew’s 1936 triumph represents cumulative innovation that drew their best from everyone involved for three decades.