A Santa Monica Woman Row, Row, Rows Way to Title

Kit Dreyfuss had always been bemused by the near-fanatics--including her husband, John--who stumbled out of bed before dawn, slogged through the icy water and perched aboard a tippy piece of fiberglass to groan, groan, groan as they row, row, row their boats merrily down the Marina.

Sweating on the seat of an indoor rowing machine seemed even more silly to her: You don't go anywhere. "Totally, absolutely boring," she declared.

So how did this 56-year-old cynic end up a World Champion of Indoor Rowing? "It's kind of a joke, really," Dreyfuss said during a recent chat in the Santa Monica home she has shared with her husband and four children since 1969. "I don't know why people take it that seriously, because it's just rowing."

It all started last summer, when her husband persuaded her to accompany him on a trip to a rowing camp in Vermont. When she returned home, she kept rowing a few days a week at a local health club, "for the aerobic exercise," she said.

John signed up for a meet in Long Beach last February, and again persuaded her to go along. Only he caught a cold.

She went alone, and won. Easy. "I just got in there and pulled," she said. "I wasn't going to kill myself. Just watching the agony on other people's faces pained me."

Her experience in Long Beach made her the first member of the Los Angeles Rowing Club to qualify for the free air fare to the world indoor rowing meet, said the club's former president, Dave Van Dillen. "It was a surprise to us. She'd just started," Van Dillen said. "She's pretty remarkable." The world championships were held February at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where 1,000 rowers of assorted shapes, ages and nationalities raced rows of rowing machines resembling squat stationary bikes propelled with arms instead of legs. A spunky organization that calls itself CRASH-B, an acronym for the Charles River All-Star Has Beens, started the races in 1982.

Dreyfuss won the match for women age 50 and over, covering the equivalent of 2,500 meters in a little over 10 minutes and 11 seconds, according to CRASH-B spokeswoman Anna Jones.

"Finally, she was sweating," John said.

Her trophy was a hammer, symbolizing the mighty brawn required to row. "Great, we really could use one of these around the house," she told her husband, who hung the hammer on the wall instead.

Despite her humor and modesty, Dreyfuss is becoming competitive, her family said. And she is showing signs of becoming addicted to the sport. These days, John Dreyfuss reports, "She rows mornings I don't even get up."

Loyola Marymount student Ollie Cantos received a plaque from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for his election to the California Assn. of Blind Students.

Cantos recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to increase awareness of blind citizens issues to members of Congress on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind. He is the vice president of student services for the Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University and also serves on the Associates Council of the Westchester/LAX Chamber of Commerce.

Cantos is a junior and plans to major in political science.

Mark Mayfield has been named Volunteer of the Month for February by the U.S. Olympic Festival '91.

The United States Olympic Festival '91 is a multisport event that will take place from July 12 to 21 in Los Angeles.

Mayfield, of West Hollywood, is a member of the Olympic Festival's data entry staff.

Gerald Lange, USC master printer and librarian, has won the first annual Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design of the Associates of the University Library at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Lange, of Los Angeles, won the award for his design of the book "The Letter of Columbus on His Discovery of the New World" which was published in 1989. Since 1986, he has managed the USC Fine Arts Press and curated USC's historic printing equipment collection.

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