PHILADELPHIA, PA. — In what has become the most hotly-contested event on their schedule, the Columbia varsity heavyweight rowers came within three seconds of retaking the Childs Cup which they won in 2009 and lost, by just 2.3 seconds, last season.
   
Columbia finished second in 5:31.0, 8.6 seconds better than the 5:39.6 of Penn, the host school, but trailing Princeton's 5:28.0. The Lions won the Childs Cup, for the first time in 46 years, when they beat Princeton by almost nine seconds in 2009. They just missed beating the Tigers in 2008, by 1.1 seconds, meaning they have have lost three races to Princeton in the past four years by a sum margin of 6.4 seconds.
   
This year's varsity race began well. On a calm Schuylkill River, bathed by brilliant sunlight, Columbia got off the starting line well. Although Princeton, which also started well, moved into a slight lead, Columbia came onto the turn at 750 meters in perfect position to shoot into the lead.
   
"We had planned a move in the turn, but you could tell that Princeton had also planned a move there," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "They were really aggressive. They moved ahead of us by a length. Later, they made another move."
   
As hard as Columbia fought, the Tigers were able to maintain that one-length lead. "We pushed at the end," Zimmer said, " but Princeton was able to respond." The Tigers crossed the finish line by slightly less than the full-length they had established back at the turn.
   
"It was a solid effort by us," the coach said. However, he noted, "Princeton was very aggressive and we were a little too passive. We're very young — we have four sophomores in the first boat — and we will learn to execute better. This is a good group; they train hard and race hard."
   
The Tigers demonstrated heightened aggressiveness in the freshman eights. They came off the line very quickly, taking the lead. As Columbia caught up, Princeton held the Lions off, moving out to a 3/4 length lead.
   
Through the middle 1000, Columbia threatened, but was unable to dent that 3/4 length lead. In the final 500 meters, the Tigers fended off the final Lion surges, and then took off. "They were aggressive at the end," Zimmer said, "and rowed away from us."
   
That aggressiveness was also evident in the second varsity race, won by the Tigers with Penn second.
   
Columbia meets the Quakers again next Saturday, April 16, when it meets Penn and Yale in the Blackwell Cup on the Housatonic in Derby, Conn.
   
Today's results:

The Childs Cup
Columbia, Penn, Princeton
April 17, 2011
Schuylkill River, Philadelphia, Pa.

Varsity Eights

1. Princeton, 5:28.0
2. Columbia, 5:31.0
3. Penn, 5:39.6

Second Varsity Eights
1. Princeton, 5:38.5
2. Penn, 5:41.4
3. Columbia, 5:53.8

Freshman Eights
1. Princeton, 5:34.2
2. Columbia, 5:39.6
3. Penn, 5:48.0
4. Penn 2F, 6:12.5

Third Varsity Fours
1. Princeton, 5:47.9
2. Penn, 5:56.3

Today's Boatings vs. Penn, Princeton:

Varsity Eight
Janelle Geddes, cox; Sam Collins, stroke; Mike Donohue, 7; Mike Rawlings, 6; Ian Winthrop, 5; Sebastian Kirwan, 4; Greg Hawxhurst, 3; Noah Whitehead, 2;  Charles Wu, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Andrew Lake, cox; Max Zinner, stroke; Forrest Anderson, 7; Matt Celano, 6; Ryan Jones, 5; Erik Schiferle, 4; Phillip Fletcher, 3; Kyle Schmidt, 2; Tom Olivera, bow

Freshman Eight
Seungki Lee, cox; Clemens Auersperg, stroke; Matt Lonski, 7; Connor Jones, 6; Ben Coombs, 5; Daniel Kolbe, 4; John Clapp, 3; Nick Sinchak, 2; Brent Laurint, bow