In 2nd Try, 2006 Tiger Champion Looks To Loch Up Olympic Gold For Australia
GoPrincetonTigers.com will provide profiles, video interviews and Q&As of each of its eight rowers headed to the London Olympics. See the schedule below:
Monday: Caroline Lind '06
Tuesday: Robin Prendes '11 l Lauren Wilkinson '11
Wednesday: Sara Hendershot '10 l Sam Loch '06
Thursday: Glenn Ochal '08 l Gevvie Stone '07
Friday: Andréanne Morin '06 l Daily Olympic Schedule
Sam Loch is Australian. He won an Eastern Sprints and Ivy League championship in the U.S. But he has had some amazing rowing memories in England, and he'll be looking for the biggest one of all in the next two weeks when he returns to the Olympics as a member of the Australian men's eight.
Loch came to Princeton in 2003 and immediately made a splash. The Tiger freshman eight, coached by current heavyweight coach Greg Hughes, went undefeated that season. The boat, which included future 2008 U.S. Olympian Steve Coppola '06, swept both the EARC and IRA grand finals; it punctuated the brilliant season by heading to Henley and winning the Temple Cup.
That would be Princeton's first Henley title in 30 years. As it turned out, it wouldn't even be Loch's last one.
His Princeton boat grew stronger, but it couldn't get past the Harvard hurdle until 2006. With Loch as the stroke, the Tigers won the Compton Cup on the Charles River, then topped the Crimson by more than two seconds to win the program's first Sprints title since 2001. Princeton made one more trip to Henley, and it won the Ladies Plate.
So two trips to England, and two gold medals for Loch. How much would a third mean?
Loch shared some of his thoughts with GoPrincetonTigers.com in a Q&A recently, and you can see from his earlier answers, getting on the medal stand is clearly a huge goal. He was a member of the Australian men's eight in 2008; that crew reached the gold medal final, but it finished sixth in its race, almost 10 seconds off the medal stand.
Loch, being led by longtime Princeton heavyweight coach Curtis Jordan, has much higher goals over the next two weeks. He shares those thoughts and others below.
How special was the 2008 Olympic experience, and did you know pretty quickly afterwards that you would try again for 2012?
Special isn't exactly the word I'd use. It was amazing, but ultimately disappointing. I'd gone to the Olympics as a spectator in 2000 and as an athlete I had higher expectations for our crew than we ultimately achieved. I knew immediately I'd continue to row with London as the end goal.
What do you remember most about the Beijing men's eight final? Feelings before, during, after... anything stand out most?
The final is a bit of a haze, even when I watch it now. To be fair, watching the race is pretty similar to how it felt - we were in the race and then, well, not. It's a bit hard to pinpoint exactly when it went wrong that day, but we'd had a pretty disrupted preparation and I think we were exposed. I think we were capable of contending for a medal, but certainly not that day.
How has your last year of training been, and how meaningful was the selection to the Australian men's eight?
Training has been going well. I've spent the last couple of years between the coxless four and the eight and was glad to have selection for London concluded and be selected in the 8. I take a lot of pride in being chosen to represent my country, but the way we perform in London is far more important.
How did your time at Princeton, especially all of the championship races of 2006, help prepare you for your international successes to follow?
Racing at Princeton afforded me far more opportunity to race eights than I would have if I'd stayed in Australia (where we train and race smaller boats primarily), which was great. I was also fortunate to
have some very talented teammates that were passionate about winning races.
What lesson or lessons have stood with you the most that you learned from Curtis Jordan, Greg Hughes or anybody else with Princeton crew?
I'm still learning lessons from Curtis given, through a series of good fortune, he is my current coach. Greg confirmed my belief that rowing fast requires passion and also the importance of "savviness" as it pertains to winning races. We also had the occasional presence of alumni that were invaluable. Chris Ahrens '98 insisted that no margin of lead or victory was ever enough and Paul Teti '01 showed that enthusiasm and a little bit of lunacy go a long way.
Six years after your graduation, do you still feel pride over the number of Princeton rowers selected to the Olympics?
Very much so. I was very happy to see Glenn Ochal '08 selected in the US coxless four as he was a crew mate of mine in 2006. I also take pride in the other two from my graduating class, Caroline Lind and Andreanne Morin and look forward to them racing each other in the woman's eight. Gevvie Stone '07 has also earned her spot and I'm pleased for her. The others are more recent graduates, so I don't know them as well, but am pleased for them and the program with their selection.
What about the overall rowing program (men's and women's, heavies and lights) at Princeton helps set rowers up for successes both as undergraduates and beyond?
There are a bunch of different factors, but there are a couple that stand out to me. The obvious is a positive competitive culture. Winning is important. Another is that the coaches understand rowing is only one aspect of a Princeton student's life and the program is tailored to this. I cannot imagine a place that could make it easier to be an elite athlete, a serious student and have a social life at the same time.