Earlier this year I had the pleasure of catching up with Princeton University Men's Heavyweight Rowing Coach Greg Hughes at the 2016 Joy of Sculling Conference. Greg teamed up with rowing biomechanics expert Connie Draper to give a great presentation on the integration of different types of technology into collegiate rowing. This is a fascinating look at how coaches and athletes can use data from the boat such as force curves, individual data such as heart rate variability and heart rate, and GPS data to become better informed about how to execute during training as well as enhance our ability to recover between training sessions.
Greg has had tremendous success as an athlete and a coach. Here are just some of the highlights of his career.
Greg Hughes begins his eighth season with the Tiger heavyweights in 2017 and has guided Princeton to a 16-2 record over the last two seasons, as well as medals at both Sprints and IRAs both season. Last year, Princeton went 8-1 and won medals in its top four boats at postseason regattas; the varsity boat took silver at Sprints and bronze at IRAs, its best postseason performance in a decade.
Since 2013, Princeton has made every grand final at Sprints and IRAs, and it hasn't finished below fourth in either.
As the heavyweight coach, Hughes has led Princeton to an 48-14 record, including an 29-13 mark in the Ivy League. He has also helped several of his individual rowers to international success, including 2016 captain Martin Barakso, who was a member of the Canadian Team at the 2015 Senior World Championships. Many of his rowers have competed at the U-23 Worlds annually, including eight current or incoming rowers at the 2016 Championships.
Hughes, a former Ivy League and national champion rower with the Princeton men’s lightweights, took over as head coach of the men’s lightweight crew in 2006, following the retirement of his former coach, Joe Murtaugh. In his first year, Hughes turned a team that had gone 2-7 in consecutive seasons into a program that went 5-3 and earned a bronze medal at nationals.
In each of the next three seasons, Princeton’s winning percentage would improve, and the Orange and Black would win at least one medal at either the EARC or IRA championships. In 2008, the Tigers rose to No. 1 in the national rankings, won its first Goldthwait Cup over Harvard and Yale since 1999 and placed second at the Eastern championships.
In 1999, Hughes co-coached the U.S. lightweight men’s 2- and the heavyweight 2+ at the World Championships, with the latter winning the gold. He co-coached the U.S. men’s eight and the men’s pair at the Under-23 World Championships in 2000, where the eight won a bronze medal. The next year, Hughes assisted Murtaugh in coaching the U.S. lightweight eight that won bronze at the World Championships. In 2002, Hughes coached the Under-23 men’s eight to a gold and the pair to a bronze at the World Championships. He also led the U.S. 4+ to a bronze medal at the 2004 World Championships. In 2005, Hughes coached the US men’s 4- which finished 4th at the Under-23 Worlds, and he coached the U.S. men's 4+ to gold at the 2007 World Championships.
Hughes was a four-year lightweight rower under Murtaugh. A 1996 Princeton graduate, Hughes was undefeated in all of his four regular seasons and won two Eastern Sprints titles. He was an All-Ivy League rower on the 1994 and 1996 national championship lightweight crews. He served as team captain in 1996 and won the Gordon G. Sikes Award for the greatest contribution to Princeton lightweight crew. He would go on to be an alternate for both the 1997 and 1998 lightweight U.S. national teams.