Seth Weil was inducted into the Cal Aggie Hall of Fame as a Legacy Award winner on 10/6/2023
Seth was also be honored during halftime at the UC Davis vs Montana home football game on 10/7/2023.
UC Davis Men’s Crew Alumnus Seth Weil represented the United States of America at the 2016 Olympics in Rio as a member of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. During his freshman year at UC Davis, the 6-foot-7-inch Seth was at a party when someone walked up to him and said he should “come check out crew.” “I remember going to the informational meeting and filling out the questionnaire. The next thing I know I’m driving to practice every morning,” Seth said. His first 2,000-meter erg test in college was 6:35.
Seth Weil First 2000m Erg Test
Freshman Year 2005 — Seth Weil in 6 seat
“It felt pretty good to start something off on the right foot so I just kept chasing goals from there,” Seth said. “The club program at UC Davis — along with its coaches — taught me how to row and kept encouraging me to do it as well as I could. I was surrounded by students who were really competitive and cared a lot about the sport, so it was infectious for me.” Seth recalls a lot of fundraising, including erg-a-thons, letter writing campaigns, and more. “We always had great coaching, so I feel very lucky that I always had great people guiding me through the process,” he said. “Mike Westlake, Desmond Stahl and Sam Sweitzer formed the foundation for my rowing career.” Remembering his roots in Davis, in fact, is a main part of his motivation for wanting to succeed in rowing. “The program is a club sport, but the spirit is not that of a club sport. The team is hardworking, and resourceful. Lots of hard training on the water and on land — tons of stadiums,” he said.
“There was a lot of camaraderie coming from a club program where you feel like you’re taking on the entire world. The school provided resources like vans and teachers gave us time off from class when we asked for it. When I arrived the team had a high-performance culture, and a history of impressive results. We knew it was possible to win as because it had been done before. All of that provided me with a roadmap and belief that I could succeed,” he said. “This roadmap I relied on in the following years when I had nothing — but kept knocking on doors in my journey trying to make the National team.
I wanted to prove to the broader rowing community that the program and the people at UC Davis were just as competitive and hardworking as any other in the world. I felt like I had some natural ability which I was able to then leverage and show everyone else that UC Davis meant business when it came to rowing. This was very important to me and probably one of my primary motivations to be successful.”
2007 WIRA Champions
2009 ACRA Championships – Silver Medal
“I didn’t aspire to be on the national team until much later on. For the most part it was just a matter of seeing how fast I could go every year. UC Davis was great to me. I was in school for six years, but I finished my rowing eligibility in four. So I stayed in Davis, bought a Fluidesign single, and just trained every morning with the team in my single for the last two years being coached by Sam. I drove my single down to the U23 Camp at Stanford, and even though I had superior erg times I really wasn’t getting seriously considered by the coaches. And from there I tried to find a club I could train at. The typical National Team feeder clubs weren’t interested, but fortunately GMS in Connecticut took me. This began my journey of driving my single across country multiple times. I put in a lot of hard training at GMS and made progress in the single, but couldn’t translate my erg time potential to boat speed as I ended up in the E final at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
I needed to do something different. I heard about Carlos Dinares at Lake Samish, Washington. He had developed some scullers pretty rapidly. I sent Carlos an email with my information and told him that I needed help and that I was willing to do anything. Carlos called me and told me life there was hard. But I was desperate so I agreed to move back west and train with him,” Seth recalls.
Upon arrival, the coach informed him they were “going to train until something breaks: either your body or your spirit” and he was not lying as I later broke my ribs rowing so hard and so long. However, I was proud that my “spirit” was intact! Seth lived in the coach’s house and trained “as much as I could handle.”
“It was awesome. Pretty gnarly. Definitely the most challenging thing I’d ever done,” he said. It was multiple workouts and 60-70,000 meters a day at a stroke rate of 16 to 18 strokes per minute.
It was January 2013 when U.S. National Team had a training camp in Chula Vista and Coach Luke McGee called Seth on a Friday explaining that someone was injured. He asked if Seth could be there on Monday to fill in. “They needed me in a sweep boat to row starboard. I said yes, figuring this would be my only chance,” he said. “I maybe had rowed starboard a few weeks my freshman year and I’d been exclusively in the single the last three years. “Carlos’ guidance to me was, Seth just win everything you do down there.” I flew to Southern California and spent the weekend at the UCLA boathouse rowing starboard on the dock. I took a tent with me as I had no lodgings. The first day down in Chula Vista Luke had me rowing starboard which was something I had rarely done, but I was determined to do anything to make it work. The guys in the camp had lodging and food provided, and I was the outsider filling in and fending for myself. The January camp went well and they invited me back to the March camp which was mostly a pairs matrix and that went well also. They asked me to stay an extra day to do a 6,000-meter erg piece on Monday. I said no, as I was growing frustrated at not being part of the squad. The coach said if all went well with the test the next step is: I would be going to Princeton as part of the U.S. National Team.”
From there, Seth was invited to the Senior National Team Training Center in Princeton, New Jersey. “My new training partner, Henrik Rummel, was like, ‘Look, here’s the deal: We win everything,’ and I was like, ‘Awesome.’ I guess they saw some hope in me as an athlete, and decided to teach me how to row properly,” Seth said. Seth’s first international competition was in 2013 at the Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland as part of the 4-. The men in his boat were National Team veterans, having been with the team since they were U17’s (ages 17 and under). But this was all new to Seth. He had no real perspective on how fast the boat was going. Henrik assured the squad that the boat was fast. But it’s one thing to have someone say it, and another to get tangible evidence by beating World Class crews. “We made the final, and before launching, Stroke Mike Gennaro said to Seth, “You take care of the push at 1,250 to go and if we are in the lead I will get us across the line first.” Seth poured everything he had into the push. He was completely spent. Stroke Gennaro had kept his word: USA won gold.
Seth medaled at the following international events:
2013 Rowing World Cup Lucerne, Switzerland Men’s 4- Gold Medal
2013 World Championships Chungju South Korea Men’s 4- Bronze Medal
2014 Rowing World Cup Aiguebelette France Men’s 4- Bronze Medal
2014 World Championships Amsterdam Men’s 4- Silver Medal
2015 Rowing World Cup Varese Italy Men’s 4- Gold Medal
2016 Rowing World Cup Varese Italy Men’s 4- Gold Medal
2016 — 2000M Erg Piece — 5:49.1!
Seth was named USRowing Male Athlete of the Year in 2015. And in 2016 USRowing made the Mens 4- the priority boat. The National Team coaches then paired Seth with Henrik Rummel, Charlie Cole and Matt Miller to compete in Rio, Brazil, where they finished 7th. After Rio, Seth retired from international competition to focus on a career that he’d put on hold in pursuit of rowing at the highest level.
Seth’s advice to aspiring UC Davis Rowers
Seek experiences and ask questions. Go to ID camps, attend and race regattas you have no business being at. Put yourself into the arena and do your best. It’s simply the fastest way to learn what is important and what is irrelevant. When you’re done, ask the people who won how they did it and what they do every day.
Start a Journal
Developing a workout regimen is useless if you don’t track it. “The most fundamental part of this is a journal. You have to keep track of your workouts, always,” he said. “That’s because your memory is flawed. It may tell you that you did better than you actually did, or it may sow seeds of doubt, suggesting you did worse than you thought. Either way, a journal will keep you honest and on track, and, should you suffer an injury or have to take time away for any other reason, it will offer you a roadmap back to where you were when you left off. Recollection is just notoriously wrong.
“Skills developed at UC Davis Crew — hard work, showing up to practice, not letting others down, and working together toward a common goal — helped me on my national team journey and also in my professional career.”
Seth is now working as an Aerospace Engineer with Mach 5 experimental aircraft in Mojave California.