The Ultimate Experience

May 23, 2008

The UCF women's rowing team had its most successful season in the 12-year history of the program in 2006-07. Led by Krystina Sarff, now a redshirt senior, the varsity 8+, UCF's top boat, posted nine-consecutive wins to start the season. The Knights earned a No. 9 ranking in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/US Rowing Division I Varsity 8+ Poll, the highest in program history. The 2007 season also marked the black and gold's first NCAA championship appearance, where UCF finished fourth overall.

Sarff was selected First-Team All-South region and First-Team All-America by the CRCA, capping off the Knights' historic season. Sarff, who is a team captain, maintains the success of the boat trumps any individual recognition she receives. "I never thought being on a team could be this amazing. The people on my team yearn to be successful," Sarff said. "I have never been with such a diverse and willing group of girls. Winning in a boat with eight other girls with you is amazing."

To earn a spot in the varsity 8+, rowers compete in seat races, which are individually-timed time trials on the water. Sarff has consistently won seat races since she began rowing for UCF in 2004. She has earned a seat in the varsity 8+ boat in every competition for four years, an accomplishment achieved by only one other teammate, Caitlin Pauls.

Sarff attributes her consistency and reliability to her level of dedication to the sport. "You press your limits big time in this sport. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, you are pushed to the limit," Sarff said. "I love it, and I think my work ethic makes me a good team leader."

Sarff will begin training with the United States national team this summer. She admits the experience will be different from her career at UCF in several ways. "I am closer with this [UCF] team than I have ever been to any group of girls in my life. It will be tough to match that experience, even if it is something as promising as the U.S. National Team," Sarff said.

When Sarff's younger sister Samantha joined the Knights' rowing team, the experience became even more significant for Krystina. "I think rowing is one of the closest sports in terms of the bonds you make on the team. You see people when they're as low as dirt and you see them when they're doing their best. It really brings people closer together, and it's been great sharing that with my sister," Sarff said. "We are best friends now. I hang out with her all the time, and I'm really glad I got to do that."

Sarff's successes are not limited to the water. The Tampa native is a three-time national scholar athlete honoree. Sarff admits it will be difficult to move on from UCF, but she is confident in the team's potential for future success.

"We haven't had the greatest results this year, but we have a much deeper team. Last year, we did well, but we stayed stagnant," Sarff said. "We have the depth now to improve every single race. I'm going to stay in contact with a lot of people [after I leave UCF], and I know there are times when I'm going to miss being a part of that success."

- Stephanie Shaw

This story appears in the May edition of KnightVision. Produced 10 times per year, KnightVision is the official publication of UCF Athletics. Each issue includes stories about UCF teams, student-athletes and coaches. To order 10 exciting issues from August through June, call 1-888-877-4373 (ext. 121) or 336-768-3400 (ext. 121).