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Their season was swept away. But the coronavirus couldn’t keep the reigning NCAA champion UW women’s rowers out of the water.

This story starts and ends in the water.

More specifically, it starts in Indianapolis, where the University of Washington women’s rowing team swept the grand finals at the NCAA championships in June 2019. It starts with staggering, unanimous, near-unprecedented success. It starts together, on the bus ride home, when the hoarse, triumphant Huskies screamed the words to “We are the Champions” and waved their phones above their heads, flashlights flickering like lighters in the night.

It starts with hope of a third NCAA sweep in four seasons; no other program has done it once.