Since my first year at Rhodes University, I've been friends with a member of the rowing squad. He doesn't look as badass as one would suspect (he's actually less than seven feet tall), but by golly does he do some crazy stuff. Like all rowers, he had some sort of hectic diet and exercise regime, and there were times when he would get up before sunrise every day for a few weeks to train.
He even gave up drinking during the sport season. Amongst students, this sort of thing is rather unheard of.
Recently, another of my friends decided to take up rowing as well. And willingly, to boot. We're still trying to get him to check in with a psychologist, but in the meantime I've accompanied him on one or two rowing-related expeditions onto campus.
Yesterday evening, we went for some sort of ergo test thingie at the Rhodes University Rowing Club, a small hovel near the swimming pool and squash courts which served as a home to all sorts of burly, hairy-chested, beer-swilling rowing men and women.
Well, okay, I've met some truly charming rowing ladies out there, but I still think that it made a wonderful picture. And besides, rowers are about the most macho objects in existence, second only to a distilled mixture of pure chest hair and man-sweat. Seriously, I could feel my beard growing the moment I stepped into the clubhouse – I was also overcome with an overpowering urge to constantly high-five people.
The Rhodes rowing club wasn't always this way. It apparently owes its success – and the dedication of its members – to one gentleman who single-handedly turned the rowing club from its old B-league ways into the pumped-up festival of madness and testosterone that one sees today. Whoever this guy was, he must have been some sort of demi-god: I've never seen any sportsmen exert themselves so hard or commit themselves so fully to a cause in the way that the Rhodes rowers do. I'm not quite sure whether to regard them with awe or concern.
After about twenty minutes at the club, I decided to duck out and head to the local library to get some work done. The rowers are an interesting bunch, but there's only so much uber-manliness that a hardcore geek can take in one sitting.