Universiteit Leiden

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Exhibition shows the wondrous world of rowing club Asopos De Vliet

Boudewijn Röell's Olympic medal, an ancient skiff and photo's of memorable rituals. Asopos de Vliet - Princess Beatrix was a member - is celebrating its 55th anniversary with an exhibition in the Oude UB, from 1 November to 26 January.

Other clubs refer to us mockingly as ‘Schiphol Zuid’, Scott Kannekens, organiser of the exhibition, explains. Asopos de Vliet is located on the Dwarswetering, which means it is completely in Leiderdorp. ‘We want to show with this exhibition in the heart of Leiden that we're here too and we're doing well!' One of the reasons the club believes things are going so well is its location on the outskirts of Leiden: the Dwarswetering is ideally suited for long stretches of rowing without coming across other traffic on the water.  

Boudewijn Röell proudly showing his medal in the Oude UB

Olympic Games

The highlight of the collection is the bronze medal won by student of medicine Boudewijn Röell in 2016 with the Holland Eight at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Röell, who is currently doing his medical internships and still trains at Asopos De Vliet, opened the exhibition on 1 November. One of the display cabinets also contains the bronze pizza box that a well-known pizza companyhad made specially for  Röell after the Olympics because his favourite meal before a competition was pizza tonno. Kannekens, who graduated in History in 2016, knows the medal winner personally. 'As a first-year student Boudewijn was already a really fast rower, but his technique was a bit basic. It's great to be able to see his later success from close by.'

Princess Beatrix opened the club house in 1974. She was a member of De Vliet, the club with which Asopos merged.

Princess Beatrix was a member

The club can also look back on other illustrious members who took part in world championships, including rowers from the 70s. At that time  Asopos de Vliet was one of the biggest rowing clubs in the Netherlands. And there was one other famous member: Princess Beatrix. She rowed with De Vliet, the women's rowing club with which Asopos merged in 1974. Beatrix, who studied law in Leiden, opened the then brand-new club house in 1974.

Sweat sessions

Besides these famous members, the exhibition also gives visitors a glimpse into the culture of rowing. Old and newer photos show various well-known rituals such as 'all the helmsmen in the water': after winning a competition, the team members throw their helmsman in the water. There are also photos of the 'weighing in' sessions: just before a competition the men in the lightweight class have to weigh an average of 70 kilos. These sessions tend to go hand in hand with intensive sweat sessions; the team members try to lose a few surplus kilos before a race by wearing rain suits and plastic binbags.  

None-too-serious rituals

Anyone visiting the exhibition will immediately notice ‘De Plons’, a wooden skiff from 1923. There are also cherished competition and committee jackets, which are passed on to the next generation. The rowers write the competitions they have won inside the jackets. The committee jackets, dating from the 60s, are now little more than patchwork rags. It's fine to  mess them up, but they still have to be passed on to the next cohort without fail. Kannekens: ‘We like traditions, but we're not really a corps like many other rowing clubs. We have more of these none-too-serious rituals.'

(LvP)