There’s really no other sport like it.

Pacific Coast Highway is only a few boat-lengths away, and soon the bustle of street and harbor traffic will bring Newport Beach to life. But at 5 a.m., the waters just off Chapman University’s Robert & Marie Gray Collegiate Rowing Center are “the most peaceful place possible,” says Sarah Van Zanten ’11, who competed in crew during her four years at Chapman and now coaches the Panther men’s rowing team. “Sometimes you’ll hear a fish jump, or a dolphin will surface just off the boat,” she relates. “But often the only sounds you hear are the oars flipping against the water. And when we first start a training session, and everyone in the boat starts moving in unison, it’s just the coolest thing in the world.” Foggy mornings stand out, Van Zanten adds. “The coxswain will start humming the music from Pirates of the Caribbean.” The only thing better is race day, at the moment when the shell hits the 500-meter mark and the team makes its final push to the finish as the cheering from the boat house balcony gets louder and louder. “There’s really no other sport like it,” Van Zanten says. Photo by Scott Stedman ’14.

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