December 8, 202 by Carol Britton Meyer
Two members of the Hingham High School rowing team recently set the world's record in the Concept2 U19 (under age 19) women's longest continual tandem row by nearly two hours, taking turns on an erg over a 50-hour timeframe.
Junior Helena Orth and senior Cassandra Dasco beat the prior 48 hours, five minutes record. A rowing machine, or ergometer, experience is close to an outdoor rowing workout.
"We switched off every two hours," Cassandra told the Hingham Anchor. "The rules were that each rower rows at least 40 percent of the time and that the rowing machine fan doesn't stop during that time period. Helena and I each edged 50 percent."
The rowing machine recorded the statistics, Cassandra and Helena wrote down the number of meters accomplished with each shift, and "witnesses" present while they rowed in Cassandra's garage signed off on the numbers.
Concept2, a manufacturer of rowing equipment based in Vermont, keeps track of different rowing records and posted Helena's and Cassandra's recent achievement.
They started rowing at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 27, and stopped at noon on Sunday. "It was cold after it got dark," Cassandra admitted. "Friends and family members were around most of the time to support us, and a couple of them stayed through the night."
While Cassandra had some conversations with supporters throughout the experience -- which she found to be pleasantly distracting -- Helena preferred to remain mostly quiet, focusing on the task at hand.
"I kept thinking, 'one section at a time,'" Helena recalled. "Fifty hours is a really long time, and I just listened to music and concentrated on not getting too far ahead of myself. On the final stretch, I just kept trekking through." They were able to drink water while rowing and have a snack when they weren't, but there wasn't much time to get any sleep.
One thing Helena especially likes about erg-ing is that it can be "meditative -- the repeated motion over and over again. The best part is the sense of accomplishment at the end -- whether you are erg-ing for 10 minutes or 50 hours. You feel invigorated and have a sense of wellbeing."
Cassandra found the nighttime hours the most challenging because fewer people were around, and she found herself wondering at times, "Why am I doing this? It will take too long.'" But thinking about their fundraising goal of $1,000, and all the support from family and friends, helped her get through the experience.
Helena and Cassandra rowed 500,000 meters, or about 310 miles, and raised nearly $3,000 through a "Rowing for Neighbors in Need" GoFundMe page to benefit the Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore. This organization helps homeless families by providing shelter, food, clothing, education, and advocacy.
Still, Cassandra said, ""I'm so glad we did it. I feel really accomplished and really grateful to all the people who donated through our GoFundMe page. I felt pretty tired but still had enough energy to complete the 50 hours."
As background, after fellow rowing team members participated in various events, Cassandra and Helena felt inspired and decided to participate in the U19.
"These challenges [including earlier ones that didn't involve setting a record and others in which teammates participated] started purely out of the absurd amount of time that we all had when everything was quarantined," Cassandra said. "They brought our team closer together and gave us something to get excited about when everything else we were looking forward to was taken away and many people’s morale was low from the situation we are all experiencing."