Luke Agnini & Georgetown Men's Rowing

By Helen Tompkins | November 13, 2014

This season, Luke Agnini takes over the reins of the Georgetown Heavyweights from rowing icon Tony Johnson. Agnini previously served as Cal’s Associate Head Men's Coach, working under Mike Teti. While with the Golden Bears, Agnini helped guide the men to top finishes at IRA’s and also spent time coaching for United States Men's National Team. Most recently, he coached the 2011 U-23 four and assistant to the eight, who earned a gold medal in world record time.

The Georgetown community is a unique one. Georgetown is small, close-knit community within the bigger city of the Washington D.C. From the alumni to people around campus, the community of Georgetown is a part of life. The strength of academics at Georgetown creates a passionate community who really get into the happenings of the city. Agnini describes his new community as “being in the middle of a lot of moving and shaking.”

The Georgetown Heavyweights have a young team this year and are few in numbers, with only three seniors and four juniors, and a total of four eights including novices. The small numbers prevent the coaches from being stretched beyond their means and provide quality coaching for each athlete.

“They are motivated,” Agnini states. “They are good students and citizens looking for direction. We are working on fitness, but they are good athletes that need to get in there physically.”

Agnini describes them as a tall, skinny bunch that needs to bulk up from 185 lbs to 200 lbs. Increasing fitness includes training at the varsity gym twice a week with a strength and conditioning coach. Additionally, Agnini builds fitness with circuits and stair workouts during practice.

To achieve fitness, Agnini focuses on what he calls the “the everyday standard.” Instead of focusing on erg tests and seat racing, Agnini values the 15 other workouts leading up to testing.

“Everything goes in the book, so that by the time we do test, I have a good idea of where they should be. There is nothing special on race day. Performance coming from preparation is nothing magical.”

Agnini builds fitness and confidence with high intensity middle rate erg pieces. He uses a formula where intervals increase in work volume or decrease in rest each week. By adding an additional 500m to last week’s workout, and holding the same split, the guys get fitter and build confidence in themselves. Nearly 95% of the team pulled their personal best on a 6k erg test a few weeks ago, with minimal race preparation, simply from improved fitness.

“They don't know their limits. They do everything I ask and I keep asking for a little more.”

Agnini has installed a fluid training program based on the quality of work the guys are putting in, how they are feeling, and their school load. He doesn’t want to wear the athletes down while still keeping it competitive.

“They are an enthusiastic bunch of 19 and 20 year old guys, so it’s about channeling all their energy and testosterone. Even when you can row, it doesn't mean we have to. The goal it to gain fitness.”

The team run stairs at the Lincoln Memorial once a week and the Exorcist Stairs on campus for “triathlon” workouts that involves erging, stairs, and running.

“It's easy to teach how to move a boat, but teaching competitiveness and toughness is almost impossible. We are looking for intelligent kids that want to work hard. Responsible people that want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Agnini's goals for Georgetown are to be consistently in contention for the finals at Eastern Sprints and nationally rank among the top ten. Besides race results, he is also working towards creating an endowment for scholarships to compete at Henley and to help their top athletes make the national team.