June 2013

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Photo by Bobbi Petersen live In the Moment with Bebe Bryans Pushing athletes to their limit one stroke at a time It's a familiar sound to anyone who's strolled on Lake Shore Path or relaxed on the Memorial Union Terrace: Bebe Bryans' powerful voice—amplified by her trusty megaphone—shouting instructions and encouragement to her rowers as their oars churn the waters of Lake Mendota. "Relax your shoulders, guys," she yells. "Now dig into it, just like that." She's in her element, having just wrapped up her ninth season as coach of the UW women's rowing program. Now Bryans launches into a summer she'll spend coaching a training camp for collegiate rowers from around the country. It's a life spent on the water that began during her own college years in California. "I was a lost freshman, so I stopped a man to ask him where my classroom was, and he wouldn't tell me until I promised Paddle Power to come out for the first rowing Try your hand (and bicep) at rowing this summer with practice." It turns out he was beginner lessons from Mendota the coach, and Bryans decided Rowing Club and the opportunity to go "just for the heck of it." to join one of their teams ranging "The first time I sat in a from novice to elite. If you've battled [rowboat], I knew I was in love cancer, Camp Randall Rowing Club with the sport," she says. has a group just for you. Visit Calling it one of the toughest and sports physically and mentally, for more. Bryans says her biggest coaching challenge is getting athletes to work in unison. But when they do, it's beautiful. "It's like a dance," she says. Her dedication to that grueling dance has paid off big time. Not only is rowing the most decorated UW sport in history— sorry football fans—but under Bryans, the Badgers made it to six national championships in seven years, an accomplishment that won her the 2010 Big Ten Coach of the Year award. Despite her accolades, Bryans prides herself most on simply continuing the legacy of the oldest women's crew program in the Midwest. When she isn't floating on the water, she's often submerged in it. An avid swimmer in her youth, she now passionately pursues scuba diving (even when the lakes are frozen). But Lake Mendota retains a special place in her heart. Having explored "every inch of it," Bryans has grown to love the lake that, for her, is truly life-giving water. –Cathy Martin June 2013 11

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