Brian M. Hughes, addresses 60 U.S. National Team rowers and coaches at MercerFull size photo

From Left: Brian M. Hughes, addresses 60 U.S. National Team rowers and coaches at Mercer's Caspersen Rowing Center May 10. Hughes told the athletes they make Mercer County and America proud as they train for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing at Caspersen

Contact: Julie Willmot
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Mercer's Caspersen site will be host of 2007 Pan Am Game trials May 20-25

WEST WINDSOR, N.J.-Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, along with more than 60 Olympic athletes, coaches and members of the Princeton National Rowing Association and their family members, yesterday celebrated the designation of the Caspersen Rowing Center on Lake Mercer as an Olympic Training Site.

The Caspersen Rowing Center, which is recognized as one of the premier rowing venues in the world and the only U.S. Rowing Training Site in the country, was established in 1998 on Lake Mercer in Mercer County Park as a site where local schools and the U.S. Men's National Team could train. Public high schools and Master's programs are also run at the boathouse.

In March, the U.S. Olympic Committee officially named the facility an "Olympic Training Site," a distinction reserved for only a handful of training venues across the country.

Surrounded by Olympic athletes and coaches and Princeton National Rowing Association members at the Caspersen Center Thursday, Hughes said Mercer County was honored to be home to the facility.

"Congratulations to everyone involved in the creation of the Caspersen boathouse for earning this tremendous accomplishment," said Hughes. "This is truly a world-class facility with world-class athletes and coaches. It's a great feeling to know that some of the best rowers in the world are right here in our backyard training for the Olympic Games."

In addition to celebrating the Olympic designation, it was also announced that the Caspersen Center and Lake Mercer would be home to the rowing trials for the 2007 Pan Am Games.

Over 200 athletes from across the United States will be racing on May 20 through May 25 at Lake Mercer for a chance to represent the U.S. in the Pan American Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in July.  The Pan American Games occur every four years. They always take place in the pre-Olympic year and are considered an important international competition on the road to Olympic competition. The Pan Am Games is one of the largest rowing competitions held in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. "I encourage everyone in Mercer County to stop by our park during that week for the rare opportunity to see Olympic-caliber athletes training right in our own back yard, and to welcome our out-of-town guests to Mercer County.''

Finn M.W. Caspersen, the chairman emeritus of the Princeton National Rowing Association for whom the facility is named, said yesterday he was proud of the milestone.

In addition, U.S. Women's National Team coach Tom Terhaar and Men's coach Michael Teti described the setting of Lake Mercer and the amenities of the Caspersen Center as perfectly suited to the rigorous Olympic training. Other speakers included Kevin Bannon, Executive Director of the Mercer County Park Commission, and Jack Weir, vice chairman of the Princeton National Rowing Association.

Weir described the training site at "the center of U.S. Rowing in America'' for those involved in the sport.

The Caspersen Rowing Center was conceived in the mid-1990s in an effort to provide a better rowing venue for the Lawrenceville School and the Peddie School. Under the direction of the PNRA, which has recruited several successful international rowing tournaments to the lake, the Caspersen Center expanded and became home to the U.S. National Team. In addition, the site has been used for elite training, regattas, and tournaments for more than a decade.

In 2002, the facility was expanded to accommodate the needs of the National Teams training there.  The rowing center now has six boathouse bays, eight bathrooms, an indoor training room, a spectators' tower, office space for 18 individuals and a conference room.  The racecourse has been improved with a new seven-lane buoyed course, a three-story finish line tower, additional dock space, and a far more spacious finish line viewing area for spectators.  The infrastructure and topography of the racecourse meets FISA standards and PNRA has the equipment necessary to host the world's largest regattas.