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Sports

June 18, 2010

Making a splash

Von Zweck has terrific first season with UMass rowing team

From "on your mark, get set, go!" to "all hands on deck," UMass has witnessed the athletic reincarnation of Katie von Zweck.

After four years and 12 undefeated seasons under Beverly High track coach Dave Jellerson, von Zweck has moved on to bigger — and wetter — things by walking on to the UMass rowing team last fall and working her way up to the varsity eight boat by the spring.

Having a freshman such as von Zweck walk-on and make his varsity eight boat is a bit unusual for Minutewomen coach Jim Dietz. But the 19-year-old from Beverly was just too impressive to ignore, even on her very first day.

When von Zweck stepped up to the ergometer (a universally used rowing machine) at practice for the first time, she registered a little over seven-and-a-half minutes, something that really caught Dietz' eye.

"The ergometer is used by coaches all over the world, so you can compare your times within the school, nationally or even internationally," said Dietz, who just finished his 16th season coaching at UMass.

"You can technically teach people how to row so they can't hurt the boat while getting the most out of their energy, but you also look for that person with an engine. These boats don't move on anything but people power, and (von Zweck) demonstrated that she's got it."

If anyone can recognize a superb rowing talent, it's Dietz. He not only built the UMass rowing program, but he has coached them to 13 Atlantic Team Championships and has been named Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year seven times. Dietz was recognized internationally in March when he was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame.

"Jim is very enthusiastic — and it's contagious. He has such high expectations that you can't help but want to reach them," said Von zweck.

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