How Crew Makes a Splash with Teamwork

The Phoenix crew team shares their four pillars for success as the spring competition season races on.


Photo courtesy of Alan Saju

At practice, the Phoenix crew team rows an 8-person boat. “In each boat, you have either 4 people or 8 people,” junior Alan Saju said. “And so if all those people aren’t working together at the same time, the boat’s not going to be going anywhere.”

Junior Michael Sing heaves an oar back and forth, propelling his team’s boat down a river during a regatta– a rowing competition. The crew team’s success this season has been evident with improvement in placement in their regattas. “The very first regatta we [went] to, we got last place,” Sing said. “The second one, we were fifth out of eight, I think. And then this [semifinals] we went to, we got third place by 10 seconds.” 

With the crew team’s progress and improvement,members attributed their successes to a few specific, yet impactful, aspects of their team environment. 


In a team-oriented sport like crew, coordinating with your teammates is essential. Regattas involve either 4-person or 8-person boats, so maintaining balance and coordination is important for success. 

“Synergy is everything,” Sing said. “It doesn’t matter how strong you are. If you completely overpower someone else, it doesn’t matter; it ruins the boat.” 

Junior Vishnu Nalluri also emphasizes the importance of strong teamwork for success at regattas. “You’re always working together,” Nalluri said. “Once you’re in a boat, you know them, and they’re really good friends of yours, you become a team at one point.”

This synergy can play out in real time during practices and regattas. “For me, I sit in the front of the boat, so I change the stroke rate,” Sing said. “ I trust that if I were to speed up [to] ten strokes per minute, they would follow.”

Junior Alan Saju agrees with this perspective on collaboration in the water. “Without team bonding, you’re not going to get anywhere in this sport,” Saju said. “Crew is the definition of team bonding.”


Regattas can have tough competition, and sometimes, the crew team may not achieve their desired expectations. However, the team has developed a process for dealing with defeat and using it as a productive experience rather than an unproductive one. 

“Whenever we have a bad race, we always have somewhat of a negative mood right after,” Nalluri said. “But what we do is that we always talk about it after the race to see where we went wrong.” 

Sing added that the process has fostered success in the team. “If we do something really really badly, we’ll spend an hour talking about it, and then we come up with a solution,” Sing said. “After our first race, we came up with a solution; since our endurance wasn’t good enough, we would do morning practice, and we still do that.” 


Having a good environment for race day is an important part of success for any team. Because of this, the crew team takes specific measures to make sure they’re prepared and motivated for the regatta.

“[On the day before the regatta], practice ends early, so the coaches usually have time to give us a pep talk,” Saju said. “And we meet together as a team to understand our plans and our goals.”  


The crew team’s recipe for success starts and ends with accepting teammates and treating them fairly, in order to create a positive and welcoming team environment. 

“Everyone [on the team] can talk to each other,” Nalluri said. “There’s no one saying ‘we’re better than you’ or ‘we’re higher than you.’ It’s just like ‘we’re a team, so you can come talk to us,’ and you’re always welcome to be who you are on the team.” 

“The best part about it is that we have a lot of senior captains,” Saju said. “And the seniors are always really welcoming of the freshman candidates and freshman rowers. So I think together, the team as a whole is always happy to work with each other, and we enjoy each other’s company.”

The crew team has state competitions on Saturday, May 7 for Novice boats and Saturday, May 14 for JV and Veterans boats.