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Central Catholic seniors set record for indoor rowing

Just before 9 a.m. on New Year's Eve, Central Catholic seniors Guthrie Renwick and Christian Wawrzonek were at work in Guthrie's living room, on their way to beating Concept2 Rowing Machines' world record for 24-hour indoor rowing.

The crew team members were at the breaking point: Their arms, legs and all muscles in between were beyond exhausted. Their minds were fried.

And the noise in the room was deafening.

"It was a completely out-of-body experience, with all the yelling and the noise," said Wawrzsonek, cheered on by family and friends. "I couldn't even collect my thoughts at that point. I don't even remember what I was thinking. We were so close. If anything (the crowd) really added an atmosphere that helped you get through that last little bit to get the record."

They did. At 9 a.m. Dec. 31, Renwick and Wawrzonek stopped rowing, after 342,330 meters. They surpassed the previous record by 3,639 meters, set in August by rowers in New Jersey and New Hampshire, for the 19U heavyweight rowing category.

The indoor rowing machines have memory systems, said Wawrzonek, and a verification code is sent into the company to back up the claim of a record. The records are solely held by the rowing machine company. "As a secondary system, we recorded all times and distances on a log sheet, which was signed by numerous witnesses," he said.

"I was completely exhausted," Renwick said. "I think that was the most tired I've been in my life. Staying awake for 24 hours is pretty tiring. Then add in the energy -- it's pretty crazy. I think Christian almost passed out at the end. I was ready for bed."

The two didn't sleep during the 24-hour period as they took turns rowing.

"There was a couch behind us so a lot of people just went on the couch and that was fine," said Renwick, who will attend Cornell University next year. "It got tight at some times. There usually weren't more than five people over at a time, besides like parents and such."

The pair was required to have a witness present at all times. Although they faced no on-site opponents, Renwick and Wawrzonek felt the adrenaline as friends took turns keeping them awake.

"I am grateful to anyone who gave us support," Renwick said. "It was a lot of trouble for people to come over in the middle of the night and keep us awake at 3 in the morning."

This was the duo's first attempt at the record and came about on a whim.

Renwick called Wawrzonek and told him to "get ready for it in two days. And he just said,'OK.' "

"This is certainly one of the most ambitious projects that have been taken," Central Catholic crew Coach Jay Hammond said. "I wouldn't be surprised if in the future guys decided they wanted to break this record again."

Renwick and Guthrie have set goals to win at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America's National Championship this spring. Central Catholic has placed second in it the past two years.

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