Hello, Hello, Hello!
As promised, I am back with the second part of last Sunday’s blog. With racing season coming up, I thought it was important to outline some tips that will make you as successful as possible heading onto the race course this fall. Having rowed in both High School and College, I have raced quite a bit. Everything from regular season dual races to State & Conference Championships. As you can imagine, I have been in almost every scenario possible. Today, I am going to share two stories. Both different situations, where both my boat mates and I handled ourselves completely differently. The circumstances of both of these races were VERY different, but I am here to show you that even if you experience a bad race, you can take the lessons learned from the negatives, and turn them into a positive.
Both of these races took place one week apart from each other, during my senior year of college. This boat gave me one of the best seasons of my rowing career. We instantly clicked during spring break in March, and the process we followed throughout the season in order to improve and reach our potential is something I will always remember. Going into the championship racing season, we had high expectations for ourselves. But, we definitely didn’t expect the following to happen:
It was a sunny, windy day in Saratoga, New York. The water was choppy, and the tension at the race course was at an all time high. It was the New York State Championships, and it was the last one of my collegiate rowing career. Heading into the race, our boat was feeling confident. We were having an amazing season, and we were awarded the #1 seed in our boat category as a result. But I think my boat mates and I felt the pressure. In all of our previous races, we had a rhythm and a massive sense of trust in one another. Every race was fun, competitive and effortless. We knew how to stay calm, cool and collected, and I had never trusted a boat more. But today was different. Something was off, and I could feel it. We were tense and nervous, and even if we didn’t exactly show it on the outside, I could tell from the beginning, we were losing a battle with ourselves.
We warmed up late, and as a result, got on the water 20 minutes behind schedule. Our warm up was frantic, unorganized and ineffective. Showing up five minutes late to the start line, we were given a warning, and that caused everyone in my boat to start to slightly panic. Then, with a minute before the start flag was raised, our coxswain’s cox box stopped working. With no way to monitor rate, or receive effective communication from our coxswain, it was going to be difficult to execute our race plan. During the process of our coxswain attempting to fix her cox box, the starters flag went up, and before we knew it, “ATTENTION.....GO!” With our coxswain’s hands pre-occupied with the objective of salvaging her cox box, she initially neglected to get her hands on the steering cords, causing our boat to slightly veer into the lane next to us. Our start was sloppy, but after 250 meters, we finally got ourselves back into our lane, and our cox box, finally turned back on.
Even with all the racing experience I had in the past, I surrendered to bad habits. I looked out of my own boat, severing the trust I had with my crew, and realized we were down a boat length on the medaling field. In that moment, our boat felt the pressure our #1 seed had put upon us, and we rowed an extremely poor race. There was no ratio, there was no boat run, the set was non-existent, and even though we made a slight move on the field early, our fatigue set in, and the medaling boats slowly and powerfully walked away from us. We finished fourth. We lost to a boat we had beaten by 15 seconds the week before. I couldn’t believe it. I will never forget the feeling that went through my body when we crossed the finish line. I was numb....and devastated. It felt like I had left my own body and watched my boat deteriorate right before my eyes. Everything we relied on during the season....the strong and composed body of our race, our sprint, and most importantly, each other...was neglected. It was hard for me to put into words, but getting off the water, I knew we had to put this behind us, and use our mistakes to our advantage going into the ECAC Championships the following week. It was go time, and we used the disappointment of our State Championship race to motivate ourselves into the following week of training.
Fueled by anger and disappointment, we headed back to Ithaca with a sense of revenge that propelled us into one of the best weeks of training I have ever had. We didn’t skip a beat, and we knew we could redeem ourselves going into the ECAC National Championships. If we had won States as our seed projected, we would have been seeded to make the Grand Final at ECAC’s. But our poor performance at States had consequences, resulting in us being seeded 9th out of 16 crews, which placed us in one of the most competitive heats at the regatta. We were placed in Lane 3 on the big day, with some intense competition surrounding us. In Lane 1 were the New England Champions for that year, Williams. In Lane 2 was Bucknell, a boat that had extremely competitive results at the Dad Vail regatta the same weekend. And in Lane 4, was Trinity, a rival of ours who we had only beat by less than 2 seconds three weeks prior. It was going to be a dog fight, but we had nothing to lose. We knew it was going to be the hardest race of our lives to get into that grand final, with only the top 2 moving on. But the mood was completely different this time around. We were confident, light-hearted and in the zone. We were excited for the race to come, because we knew we were going to have to reach new heights to compete. We wanted to see what we could do this time around, and it showed. Our warm-up was on point. The boat felt like it was floating over the water, and the sound of our catches and releases occurring in perfect unison echoed throughout the warm-up area. Practicing starts for this race is something I will always remember. Every stroke was powerful, controlled and confident. Our boat was showing a passion that was contagious, and I had never felt the way I felt heading into this race.
We lined up, and the silence at the start line was empowering. Everyone knew what was ahead. Every boat was ready to claw and fight their way down this race course for one of those two spots in the top final. Our coxswain was in the zone. Telling us to relax and breathe, I closed my eyes and envisioned our race. The starting official began the countdown, causing goosebumps to form on my arms. It was go time, and we were ready. “Five, Four, Three, Two, One...Attention....GO!” In that moment, my boat started to fly. Our start sequence was aggressive, and clean. We were one in the same that race, all nine people working in perfect harmony. The first 500 meters went by like a blur. But we were open water up on lanes 5 and 6, six seats up on Trinity, and only two seats down on Williams and Bucknell. WE WERE IN THIS. Settling in at 37 strokes per minute, our rhythm felt effortless. Every stroke, every blade went in together, and our boat was jumping out of the water. My legs were burning like never before, but in that moment, I felt as though we were unstoppable. We were going to upset some crews. In the middle of our race, we never faltered. Bucknell was fast, and they made a move to get 7 seats up on us, but Williams wasn’t going anywhere. Our coxswain was feeling the intensity, and was feeding off every move we made. “They are getting nervous! We are sticking right with the New England Champs! We have to make a move. Let’s take a 10 in two strokes, get me even! BREAK THEM!” We gained a seat moving into the final 500, and we were virtually even with Williams. We were feeding off each other, and every member of my boat was out for the win! There is no feeling like going toe-to-toe with another boat. Both coxswains pushing their crews to the limit, 16 rowers fighting for that extra inch and the crowd on the beach erupting. Williams didn’t let us forget who they were. They were the New England Champions and they rowed like it in the next 250 meters. Gaining 2 seats on us, we were still sitting 7 seats down on Bucknell and 2 seats down on Williams. “250 to go boys, you want the spot in the final, WE HAVE TO GO NOW! In 2 we bump up for our sprint. Catches clean, chests up, in 2 we go, that’s it, in 1 we bump, SEND IT, AND GO!” We jumped up to a clean 43 strokes per minute, sending the boat propelling to the finish line every stroke.
The finish line horn went off, and it was too close to call. In the end, Williams edged us by .9 seconds, but my boat couldn’t have been happier. That was our race. We challenged two of the top boats in the region and we ended up beating Trinity by 12 seconds, a 10 second improvement from earlier in the season. We did what we set out to do, and that was improve upon the negatives of States, and use that to propel us to new and better heights for ECAC’s. That’s what racing is all about, and I couldn’t think of a better way to end my collegiate rowing career.
Until next time...
Coach Matt Dorio
What would compel somebody to rouse themselves out of bed at 4:45am to go row a boat in a river, in the dark? Trying to explain this to a non-rower is an exercise in futility. You try explaining over and over again that it's actually fun and challenging, and that they are missing out by not doing the same; and all you're met with is that ole familiar look of "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Admittedly, it takes a rare and unique individual who would willingly subject themselves to such a lifestyle. I mean, we're not talking about a group of kids rowing for a high school or collegiate crew team, or people in the prime of their lives training for the Olympics. These are mainly middle aged folks -- doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, stay-at-home moms and the like, who for whatever reason, are completely and utterly devoted to this sport, maybe even a little obsessed. A handful are former college athletes, looking to recapture their rowing heyday, but most are not. It's just something they decided to try on a whim, and now find themselves hooked. It begs the question, WHY? Why are they so passionate about this sport?
It was time to go straight to the source and ask our master rowers:
I’ve only been rowing for a year, but for me, rowing is the best of all possible sports. I have been a runner and a cyclist, but I find that I get a much better physical workout from rowing because it involves using almost every muscle in my body while getting a decent cardio workout. Unlike individual sports, it also challenges me to work in harmony with a team. Then there is the choreography – it’s similar to dressage or ballet in that you strive to be perfectly aligned with the others in your boat. Take all that and put it on the river early in the morning, in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and it is deeply rewarding. And as if that isn’t enough, I’ve met some really great, healthy, fun people with like interests – a community of rowers! What’s not to like?!?
I like rowing because it provides a mentally challenging, low-impact, full body aerobic workout on the water. Rowers advance by going backwards!
I love the combination of strength and grace required to row. I love the feeling of flying a few inches off the water. I love that I can do this with my kids and share their struggle while earning their respect. I would tell anyone thinking of rowing, while it may not be for everyone, you’ll never know if it’s for you until you try!
My 'Top 5 List' of why I row at 5:15am:
All of this together makes it highly addictive!
- Karen Norgaard
(As presented to the Varsity Men's squad after the parent meeting. This is relevant for all Junior squads at LOCR.)
Ten Ways Parents can help LOCR Athletes be Successful:
Remember Todd's coaching philosophy notes:
1. Strive for excellence
2. Team first mentality
"I’m not here to prove anything. I’m not in the boat pulling the oars. My main goal is to help the team achieve their goals, to make them want to pull hard."
Hello there again everyone!
Now that everyone is settled into the fall season, it is time to start blogging regularly again. Feels good to be back. And let me tell you, racing season is right around the corner. It’s pretty crazy honestly. It feels like just yesterday that we headed onto the water for summer rowing. But alas, the summer has come and gone, and fall rowing is in full swing, and before we know it, racing season will be upon us.
We have a full racing schedule coming up, and it looks a little something like this:
It’s always great to have a full racing schedule. It allows rowers to gain as much experience as possible, and it gives athletes and the coaching staff great opportunities to keep making
improvements in order to help athletes strive to reach their full potential by the end of the season. Personally, I have been on a race course in both roles - as a rower and a coach. With eight years of racing experience under my belt between high school and college, I have been involved in many different situations on the race course. Races that have gone very well and races that have gone very poorly. It is always very important to take something away from every competition and allow yourself to grow from race to race. Growing into a coaching role, it's very important for me to take everything I have learned on the race course, and provide useful tips for the rowers I coach to use in order to execute the best race plan each time they compete. Here are some tips to help you be the best competitor out on the race course!
1. Stay Confident: This one is important. Stay Confident, not cocky. It is so important to go into a race trusting everything you and your teammates have done, and believing that you are going to go on the race course and execute a great race. Athletes size up the competition too much. They spend too much time dwelling on the results of the other teams they are competing against and not enough time worrying about believing in themselves and their training. Going onto the race course believing you will row a great race and that you will put up a great fight with the competition, no matter who they are, will set you up for success. It puts your mind in a better place, allowing you to focus on the task at hand!
2. Take it One Piece at a Time: You take a lot of strokes during a race. There is a lot to think
about. You may be passing boats and you may be getting passed. In any situation, you can’t be satisfied. When you’re racing the clock first and foremost, you need to have the eye of the tiger. You need to take every stroke like it’s your last, and always be willing to step above and beyond the further you are in the race. It is essential, if you have a bad stretch during your race, that you trust each other and get back into a rhythm. Not many races are going to be perfect, but recovering from a bad stretch and capitalizing on the rest of your race is what sets apart the winning and the losing crews.
3. Row Your Race: FOCUS ON YOUR CREW! It is so important to focus on what your crew
is doing during a race and not let another crew’s race plan dictate what you do. Your coach is going to give you a race plan heading into the race. Listen to it and trust it. It is made to
exemplify your strengths and it is going to allow your crew to row the best race possible. If
you allow another crew in your race to change your mentality, they end up controlling the
tempo of the race which is never good. Stay composed, stay relaxed and row to the best of
4. Have Fun: This isn’t meant to be cliche. Seriously, have fun. Stay confident, take the race one piece at a time, focus on your race plan and have fun! The best races I have had were when my teammates and I were relaxed and having fun. If you go into a race too tense and nervous, it WILL affect your rowing. You’ll get too far into your head and you’ll put too much pressure on yourself which is always toxic heading into a race. Always attack a race like it’s your last. You have nothing to lose! Go for the win and row like you want it! Passion goes a long way, and if everyone in your boat is on the same page, and everyone is willing to push the limits together, it is an amazing feeling.
I’ll be back this Thursday with a fun story from my rowing days. But until then, keep up the
great training and get excited for racing season!
Coach Matt Dorio
The LOCR Masters and Juniors teams had a fine showing in Vancouver at the July 29th Row For The Cure (RFTC), with several athletes earning medals in their events.
The Masters program in particular has gained tremendous momentum in the past several months under the guidance and leadership of Masters Head Coach, Matt Dorio, who was absolutely thrilled with how the team performed at the regatta.
"Last year, we had four members of the Masters team race at this event, and this year we almost quadrupled that number with 15 members of both the Masters team and coaching staff filling seats in singles, doubles, quads and even an eight. It was amazing to see so much support, and to see a tent full of Masters rowers eager to get out on the race course and to have a great time."
Dorio's pride and enthusiasm comes through loud and clear as he talks about the individual races. "Our women's quad had an amazing race, taking the overall win in their race, and earning a silver medal after the age handicap was applied. However, even more impressive, they took six seconds off their US Rowing Pacific Northwest Masters Regionals time of 4:06, to finish at 4:00 minutes! Lightning Fast!"
"The top mixed quad entry was impressive as well. Even though they were in the race with only one other boat, which happened to be another LOCR entry, they didn't let that stop them from posting a personal best time of 3:40, the fastest time I have seen a Masters quad post since I have started coaching the team. And even better, for the first time since I have been the coach, LOCR was able to field a mixed 8! Recovering from a rocky start, the 8 was able to stay composed and walk through the field, coming back from last place off the start to second place raw time. After the age handicap was applied, the boat took 4th overall, and everyone had a blast rowing our first race together in an 8!"
Youth team Novice Women's Coach and former Syracuse University rower, Meryl Engler, who stroked the eight was equally enthusiastic saying, "That was without a doubt the best race I have had since college!"
Dorio went on to talk about LOCR legend, Roger Stevens who, at 81, rowed a single for the second time in competition, "After fighting through the rough conditions of Regionals in June, Roger stayed determined to get back out on the race course to improve his time. And he did just that, posting a nearly three minute faster time at this race than at Regionals. An absolutely amazing improvement!”
Last but not least was the women's double, "Our women's double rowed a solid race, and it was a hard fought battle. They ended up taking away a bronze, only five seconds behind the 2nd place crew with age handicap applied!" said Dorio.
Dorio has big plans for the future of the Masters program, "Moving forward the future of the team is extremely bright! We have more people on the team than ever, and the focus is going to be fostering the growth we have and to keep improving on the results we have posted in the past. Moving into the fall, we are looking forward to fielding more sweep boats. The goal being to field either a Men's, Women's or Mixed 8 at the Frostbite Regatta in Seattle in November. Definitely a lofty goal. However I believe we have the numbers and the interest to do so. We are getting fast, and are looking to keep improving on results seen in the past. With personal best times in the Mixed and Women's quad, I am excited to keep seeing our times drop, and to keep competing against top notch competition in the Northwest region. I am beyond excited for the future of our club, and as we grow and continue to get faster, it is going to be fun to watch the team become more unified and push each other to new limits and heights."
Not to be overshadowed, the Juniors also had much to be proud of at the RFTC this year. "The Junior rowers showed up with smiles on their faces and racing on their minds," said Youth team Varsity Men's Coach, Preston Reep. "We trained hard leading up to this race and it showed in our performance. All crews felt their races were executed according to plan, everyone stayed in their lanes going down the course, and most importantly we had fun racing hard with our teammates.
"Also, a big shout out to our Junior parents who got everyone to the course on time and stayed late for the awards ceremony. We absolutely could not be successful without your support and generosity!", added Reep.
Junior team rowers entered boats in several categories, including both men and women's singles (Adrian E /Finn P/ Madison M) and doubles (Alex E & Isabel C, Emma M & Mika K, Jack W & Ben C), a men’s quad (Felix G, Ben S, Jack W & Ben C) and a mixed eight (Cox: Madison M, Emma M, Mika K, Finn P, Felix G, Dylan C, Ben S, Alex E & Isabel C).
- Karen Norgaard
Hello Everyone! Glad to be back and blogging regularly now! There are so many things happening down at the boathouse, and I can’t wait to keep you all updated on anything and everything LOCR!
An experience I had recently inspired this specific blog post! When I first moved out to the West Coast to coach I was only coaching the juniors team. I am very familiar with junior and collegiate level rowing. I was given the opportunity to start coaching our Masters Program, and I have loved it ever since. Everyday, I learn something new, and the athletes on our Masters Program push each other (and me!) to new heights, It is beautiful. It truly makes me excited to jump out of bed in the morning to come down and coach such an amazing group of athletes!
Rowing is a remarkable sport. It teaches athletes of all ages discipline, teamwork, time management, perseverance and more! At any point in your life, you can choose to row! Coaching has opened my eyes to a completely different perspective of the sport I love. Rowing has given me so much. It has pushed me to limits I never thought I could achieve, it has given me memories I will never forget, and it has given me life long friends I still keep in touch with to this day. I vowed to give everything in order to share the love of the sport that I have with the athletes that I coach. Racing is amazing. Winning is even better. But I rowed to push myself, to work with my teammates to become better, and to learn how to set goals and to execute the steps in order to achieve those goals.
People ask me all the time, “Am I too old to row?” Every time, I say no! Being successful in anything you do is a mindset. If you believe you can achieve something, then taking the time to take risks and push yourself to new limits will allow you to excel. When coaching athletes, I look for these following major concepts. If you come down to the boathouse, and allow yourself to focus on these ideas, you can be an absolutely successful rower at any age!
Rowing has so much to offer. It is something special, that everyone should experience. You don’t need to be a “high performance” athlete in order to come down and row. I pride myself and do everything I can to make the Masters Team a place where people are proud to row and willing to do anything to make the Team successful. If you are thinking of giving rowing a shot, YOU SHOULD! The masters team will welcome you with open arms, and we will give you an amazing time every time you row!
Coach Matt Dorio
Well hello there everyone! Yes, it is in fact me, Coach Dorio! Long time no see here on the LOCR Blog! Sorry about the leave of absence! I’m sure you will all be happy to hear that the blog will be getting some much needed attention in the future.
This week I'm talking about Summer Rowing. Yes, the rowing we do when it is actually warm and sunny here in Portland instead of cold and rainy, as usual. I have to admit, the weather here during the summer is pretty exceptional. We are lucky so we have to take advantage of that. Summer is your time to take risks, and to experience things you normally don’t have access to during the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. It is also your time to stay ahead of the game, and keep training in order to get ahead of the competition!
Hey, it’s pretty warm out! And the water is very refreshing. Why not use this time to step outside of your comfort zone and take out a single?! While there is a stereotype of sorts concerning the single being “terrifying” or “challenging,” it is an amazing boat to row. It really allows a rower to feel minute technical adjustments they need to make in their personal rowing and gives the rower a very interesting perspective on boat feel. There is nothing like taking the time to challenge yourself in the single to see all your hard work pay off once you step back into a bigger team boat. You will thank yourself for it. Our coaching staff is great, and they are dedicated to pushing athletes to new heights. They will give you the right steps in order to progress in rowing ANY boat properly. And look, if you take a little dip, IT IS OKAY! It happens to the best of us, and it will make you that much better the next time. It is also a great time to take advantage of this, before we step into bigger team boats during racing season.
Summer is supposed to be a fun time! Time to take vacations, hang out with friends, and have a little bit of...dare I say it...FUN while we are down at the boathouse and rowing. However, this is the perfect time to either maintain or amplify your training a bit. If there is one thing I learned while rowing in high school and college, it’s that your fitness can be lost in the summer. I am not saying you need to do 10k everyday on the erg, but there are some fun alternative activities that can allow you to hang out with friends AND get in shape….even outside of rowing. Showing up to rowing everyday is great, and that is an amazing step that most rowers at other clubs don’t take! But rowing is only 2 hours of the day! Why not do an additional activity?!
I got in really great shape my freshman year of college. I hit PR’s on all my erg tests, and really pushed myself past what I thought I could achieve. However, I was on a really competitive team and I knew I would have to keep the momentum going with my workouts through the summer if I wanted to make the boat I saw myself making in the fall. I didn’t have access to an erg, so it was a little difficult to stay in “rowing” shape. Summer was my time to see the friends I hadn’t seen for quite some time. So I decided to combine the best of both worlds, and figure out ways to spend time with friends, and get a good workout as well! When we would go to the pool, I would suggest doing a swimming relay. Obviously with my friends being naturally competitive, a 4-lap per person relay would turn into being a best out of 5 competition, and 4 laps turned to 20! Let me tell you, I was sore the day after that! Or, we would play water polo. No better way to get a great swimming workout in than playing water polo. You are always moving! Frisbee was always a popular activity with my friends as well. So naturally, Ultimate Frisbee was a regular game we played. Playing Ultimate for an hour can really allow you to get some good cardio in, while having a lot more fun than a traditional run. However, I knew I couldn’t always get the people together to workout the “fun” way, so I would go on a minimum 30 minute run every night. I would just make a good playlist, get lost in the music, and go for a refreshing run during a cool summer night. Even though I wasn’t erging all summer, I got back to campus in the Fall, and PR’d on my 5k by 25 seconds! It really just showed me that any extra effort counts and pays off. You can definitely have fun, while staying in shape!
Let me tell you, I have to commend everyone coming down to the boathouse everyday in the summer to row! It says a lot about your dedication and commitment to the team, and your personal development as a rower. Just remember, while people from other clubs are also rowing during the summer, there are a good amount of people that are not, and you are taking the steps to get ahead of them, and that is going to pay off in the fall! Have fun this summer, and challenge yourself. If you want to take out a single, ask! It shows great initiative, and any coach would be willing to take you out and work with you. If you want to hang out with friends, but also get an extra workout in during the day, go for a swim, or pick up a frisbee and get a game of Ultimate going! Taking that extra step will pay off!
Well, Well, Well! Look what time of the year it is already! That time of the year when we.....oh, I don’t know....GET BACK ON THE WATER! Man, didn’t it seem like a long winter?! I thought this time would never come, but here we are! Transitioning back to the water can be both an exciting and frustrating time at first. So I am here to give you a couple tips to make the transition as smooth as possible! LET’S GET TO ROWING!
If you get back in a boat and say to yourself, “Wait, it’s been a while. I think I forgot how to row.” Don’t be alarmed! Obviously you don’t mean it, but erging and rowing are obviously two different things. There are many more factors that go into rowing well, such as weather, technical ability, and water conditions. If you get out on the water for the first day of spring, and your boat is not perfectly set, STAY PATIENT! It is going to take some time to get the feeling of the water back, and get used to your teammates dynamics again. It is going to take a team effort to get everyone on the same page again, athletes and coaches included. Trust the process, and have fun.
“Coach, it’s spring! This is sprint season! Why are we doing long steady state workouts on the water?! We need to be doing sprint work!”
This is always a question that makes a coach laugh. Why yes, it is sprint season. And yes, it is just as important to get drilling and steady state in as it was in the fall when we were training for longer pieces. Fun fact, a 2k is 20% Anaerobic, an 80% Aerobic. the beginning and end of a race is very anaerobically demanding, relying heavily on powerful, concise and decisive strokes. However the middle of the race is very much aerobically demanding, which requires a solid aerobic base. How do we train for this? You guessed it! By executing long, steady state workouts and workouts that challenge and train the aerobic base.
“Okay, okay. That makes sense I guess. But coach, why do we have to do so much drilling? Can’t we just get out on the water and row? Drilling is so boring and tedious!”
Ah yes, another age old question from a rower to a coach. Well, the answer is simple. Technique allows the boat to move efficiently. A proper understanding of the recovery and drive, catch and finish, and everything in-between are going to set crews apart come spring. During a 2,000 meter race, the margin for error is very slim. During the race, your catches need to be quick and crisp, with all rowers locking on and leveraging their blades through as much water as possible. The recoveries need to be controlled, allowing the boat to move to maximum efficiency, and the drives need to be powerful and consistent, which is key to moving past that crew you’re neck and neck with in the third 500. Every drill your coach gives you has a purpose! It isn’t time to take a break, or “relax” during a long row. It’s time used to regroup, gather everyone on the same page, and to gain a better understanding of different technical aspects.
Now more than ever, attending practice consistently and arriving on time are going to be imperative to improvement and success. A crew has nine members, which means everyone needs to be on the same page. When everyone gets to the boathouse on time and attends practice everyday, it allows the team to grow and the crew to develop together. Everyday a rower shows up late or doesn’t attend practice, it hinders the crew's ability to improve and get faster. Manage your time, and get to practice!
It is going to be important that when you get on the water at first, you stay patient and trust the process. You are most likely not going to be doing sprint workouts in the first couple of weeks you are on the water. And, as fun as sprint workouts can be, it is super important to focus on drilling to improve technique, and execute longer workouts in order to build your aerobic base! It is going to pay off come racing season when you are able to hold you own in the third 500, and sprint your way past a crew with solid catches! Let’s get back on the water, and let’s get back to rowing!
Head Masters Coach & Varsity Youth Assistant Coach
Hello again everyone! So this week's topic is something that is very important for all athletes to know and be educated about, especially for long-term participation and success in any sport! Nutrition and Injury Prevention are two things that are important to familiarize yourself with early, because getting into good habits early is going to be an essential step in staying healthy, and being able to perform your absolute best on any given day.
I want to preface this blog post by saying, I am in no way, shape, or form a certified Nutritionist/Physical Therapist. These tips I give you are snippets of information I have held close over the course of my nine years as a competitive athlete. If you have any questions on the topics I choose to discuss, please feel free to contact me, and I can go into some of these topics a little further!
First things first....NUTRITION IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Let’s all be honest, when we are hungry, it is really easy to eat whatever is lying around the house. Chips, cookies, doughnuts - yes they are all delicious, but are they going to give your body the essential components it needs to perform to its potential on a day to day basis? The answer, sadly, is no. In moderation, these foods are okay to incorporate into a healthy diet because, let’s be honest, everyone loves a good doughnut, or some cookies and milk as a midnight snack here and there. But it is insanely important that you get a well balanced diet, filled with protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits etc. Also, HYDRATE YOURSELF! I can’t tell you how many times I would go to school in high school and just *forget* to drink water. I would get to practice and want to collapse during a workout, and of course I would always wonder why I wasn’t performing well.
Here are some tips I have for eating well, and staying hydrated:
Obviously, I could go on and on about key components to keeping your body properly fueled for performance, but these are just a couple of key points that have stuck with me throughout my athletic career. I was terrible at staying hydrated when I first started rowing and I paid the price. And when I first got to college, my diet suffered. Thank your parents for cooking amazing meals for you every night! You rarely have to think about eating well, because most of the time, you are doing so without even thinking about it.
Now, here is something that is very important to me. Injury Prevention. As an athlete who is practicing five or six days a week year-round, it is insanely important that you recognize when you are starting to get hurt, and that you take the necessary steps to get treatment and stay healthy.
Here is my first tip (And I can’t even begin to stress this enough): You are not a hero for working out through the pain of an injury. I will repeat this. YOU ARE NOT A HERO FOR WORKING OUT THROUGH THE PAIN OF AN INJURY. There is a common belief that you are tough or strong if you fight through pain, or you get hurt, but continue to compete anyway. I personally believe that you are stronger when you can realize you need to stop, and you get the treatment you need.
When I was in high school, there was this one rower I remember. Everyone looked up to him. He was the best rower on our team by far. He had the best erg score, rowed beautifully, and was always willing to go above and beyond expectations to get himself and our team to reach new heights. One day, we were doing an erg workout, and he complained about pain in his lower back. However, he didn’t stop. He just continued to erg through the pain. Through the next couple of weeks, he continued to row, even though he regularly complained about pain in his back. When told to take a couple days off, he preached that he would be “weak” and a “coward” if he stopped working out. We were in the middle of a workout one day on the water, and all of a sudden I hear a loud yell from six seat, and I see his blade stop moving. He was left immobilized in pain and couldn’t move. We rowed all the way back into the boathouse by 6’s. The next day, we found out he slipped a disk in his lower back, and he unfortunately couldn’t row again. He was being recruited by many D1 athletic programs but missed out on his chance to continue his rowing career because he chose to listen to his pride and not his common sense. I am a strong believer that if he chose to seek treatment, he would still be rowing today.
I had VERY bad knee issues my junior and senior years of college. I had to go through extensive PT everyday before practice in order to just get through 90 minutes of rowing. I knew my limitations, and I stuck to what I was told.
Here are some tips I have followed throughout my rowing career:
Long story short, keep yourself as healthy as possible! Your body is your tool for performing well when you practice and compete. You need to treat it well, and you will thank yourself in the long term for it. If you have any questions, ask a coach about nutrition or injury prevention. As a high school athlete, it is important that you keep yourself healthy now so you can continue to compete and participate in sports long term.
Rowing is an amazing sport, because people of all ages can be successful at it, if they treat themselves properly!
Rowing is something special. Let’s face it. Most of us didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we started this sport. It was something different and a way for us to meet new people (I know that’s why I joined). I played basketball, baseball and tennis most of my childhood. My parents drove me to all the practices, paid for all the private lessons, and sat in the bleachers in a humid gym, cheering me on as I put up two points and 15 turnovers on the basketball court. I wasn’t the most coordinated person, but I still loved sports.
I walked into my high school gym the week before school started for our clubs and activities fair. I was a skinny, 130 pound freshman with hopes of being a “varsity” athlete! I found the rowing table, got convinced to do a 250 meter piece, and was hooked from that point on.
There’s nothing like being on a rowing team. You’re surrounded by your friends everyday, and yah, even though you can get sick of each other by the end of the season, that’s your family. You wouldn’t want to spend three hours a day, six days a week with anyone else. A lot of people get attached very quickly and then it happens. Senior year of high school rolls around, and you think you have hit a dead end. "Well, my rowing career is over because I am graduating. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING....ROWING IN COLLEGE IS ALWAYS AN OPTION!"
Now, this third installment of blog posts is going to detail some tips on how to choose the program for you, highlight some myths about rowing in college and outline how much fun it is to be a part of a college rowing team! Because let me tell you, rowing at Ithaca made my college experience that much better!
Let me start off by saying this. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ROW FOR AN “ELITE” COLLEGE PROGRAM TO BE A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGIATE ROWER. I think one of the most frustrating things to hear, both as a teammate of other rowers and as a coach, is that if you don’t go and row for a D1 or Ivy League school, or for Washington and Cal, that you might as well not row at all. What’s the point if you’re not rowing for “the best” schools out there?! Listen, I can’t tell people enough times that the fraction of people that row for programs that rank amongst the elite programs in the country is so small in the vast majority of things. You can still be a successful collegiate athlete attending any school you want to!
Here are some awesome tips for looking for, and finding the right college program for you:
Boy did I love rowing in high school. I was always that kid that knew way too much about the sport, who was ranked in the top 10 for high school and collegiate rowing, who won the dual in California the week before, and where all the best race courses in the world were. Before I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to row in college. It was a sure thing for me. I chose Ithaca because it was my dream school. Accredited Sport Management Program, beautiful location, perfect campus size, study abroad programs....and of course, a rowing team. Now, Ithaca built its team off of walk on rowers. What I mean by this, is that many of the people that were on our collegiate team, had never touched an oar before getting on campus. I decided this was not an issue for me. Yes, I had four years of rowing experience at a decent high school program, but I enjoy this sport so much, that it was just as enjoyable for me, even if I was pretty much starting from scratch with a whole new group of people. In the beginning, I rowed with the varsity, because even though I was a freshman, the coaching staff thought I might be “bored” rowing with the freshman boats and rowing by pairs and fours and doing drills. Well, I have to tell you, I was pretty sad. I wanted to be with the freshman guys. I was a freshman, so I should be with them! I wanted to go through the process with them. Even if it meant starting from rowing by just pairs in an eight. I was a part of Ithaca’s Freshman team, and I took pride in that. That year, we grew together. We fought on the ergs together in the winter, and we gave everything we had on the water every single practice. We wanted to get better as a team, as a unit, as a family. We ended up coming in 4th at our state championships in the freshman 8 category (by .2 seconds behind Army) and we pulled a 6:20 at our national championships. A 6:20 as a freshman boat with a boat full of many guys who had never rowed before. It was one of my biggest highlights. I won three medals in college. Just three. But I loved every second of my time at Ithaca because it meant so much more to me to go through a process that was much bigger than myself. It was about watching my teammates start from the very beginning, to transforming into guys who would do anything for each other on that race course. I cherished being a part of that process with them. For me, that meant more to me than being a part of a team that, from the beginning was made up of people who had already rowed before. Because we built something, and we believed in something. We set goals for ourselves and for each other, and pushed each other to be the absolute best we could be. And for that, I am still grateful for Ithaca Rowing.
From the very beginning you should outline your expectations of where you want to row and settle for nothing less. If you want to row at a high level and compete for national titles, by all means, GO CHASE THAT! But if you want to row in college, don’t let a school's “winning reputation” or medal count effect that decision. It’s about being a part of something much bigger than a medal count. It’s about furthering yourself as an athlete and as a person. Rowing in college taught me so much about being a confident and strong person, and for that I am thankful.
If anyone has any questions about rowing in college, please feel free to contact me! I am the biggest advocate for the sport of rowing and what it can do for a person and their life. I have stories to share and memories that I cherish forever, and I will be glad to talk about this further with whoever is interested!