Monday, June 25, 2012

Row, Row, Row your boat.

I decided to put this on my skating blog because it is sport related.  Plus I skipped LTS for it.

This weekend I took two mornings of Learn to Row.  I looked it up last month, but missed the cut off for registration by a day! I had to wait all month to take it, and wish I had gotten into it last month, as now I have classes again and don't know when I can get this into my schedule.

Anyhow- Day 1 started with us learning how to carry a boat and put it into the water, how to get the oars set, and how to get into and out of the boat.  I learned very quickly why you don't see many 5'0" rowers.  To open the port side oarlock, I pretty much only have the use of the very very tip of my middle finger, because I can barely reach it.    Additionally, when we carry the boat, I have to carry on tip toes, a fun safe way to walk down a slippery dock ramp :)

Another note: starboard and port are insanely confusing when rowing.  They are right/left when oriented with the front of the boat.  But you sit backwards in the boat.  So port is on a rowers right and starboard on a rowers left.  Thankfully, everything is color coded so it is best just to remember port = red, and starboard = green.  Thank goodness for Girl Scout camp because the song Barges goes through my head everytime "Starboard shines green and port is glowing red..."
After learning to get into and out of the boat we learned how to safely carry oars and about a dozen rules for the equipment that is club specific.  It makes sense though- this stuff isn't cheap and we are lucky to get to use it.  Already, I could see that vocabulary was going to be killer.

Then we went up to the  beautiful boathouse and used the ergs.   We erged in the boathouse between the rows of the boats.  A team of rowers was doing the same in front of the boathouse- they were supposed to be a 4, but only 3 people showed up.  Good lesson there on being committed to your rowing times!  There is a room upstairs of ergs, but I'm not sure if it is Hawkeye rowing only or if we use it when the weather isn't nice.  (The boathouse is the University's.  It is on city land so the community rowing program gets to use it too.  We are really lucky.  Apparently the men's club team shares some of their equipment in the summer. Of course, the ladies varsity boats are off limits and in a totally different bay.)  On the erg we learned the way to do a proper stroke: it is nothing like what everyone in the gym does on a rowing machine (which is what an erg is.)  Rather than pulling back with your arms while pushing off with your legs, it is important to go legs-body-arms (the drive), and then return with arms-body-legs (the recovery).  I have two challenges.  On the first part I start my body before finishing my legs, on the second part I tend to take my body with my arms.  These should all be separate movements.   My back is really hurting today (and yesterday) and I'm not sure if it is because I am doing this wrong, or if it is because I introduced movement to a muscle group that never has to work.

After this we got to go in and use the rowing tank.  This was really neat, and I imagine if it wasn't for the women's team it is unlikely a community program would get to use something like this (unless they had a ton of members and a ton of money).  A tank is basically two really shallow pools on either side of a room, and in between them, set into the ground rows of rowing seats.  You can then use oars to row in the water, and the slide seats act just like the boat.  The tanks can be controlled to add currents and other movement, but we just kept them still.  Here we translated the movement from the erg to the oars.  When sweep rowing (one oar each) you have to also lean to the side of your oar, not just straight back and forth rowing.  Here we learned about how to use our shoulder (and not the back or elbow) to dip the oar into the water at the "catch" and we worked on our stroke and our timing (don't race to the catch).  After awhile we learned how to feather the blade right after the finish of the stroke, and to square it up (which is something I tended to forget in the tank, but luckily never in the real boat).  When you feather/square it always has to be done with the inside hand.  When I row starboard this is really hard for me, as I want to feather with my right hand. 
That ended day 1.

1 comment:

George A said...

Jessim! Skating and crewing--I'm highly impressed! I'm strictly a small sailing dinghy racer but crew has always been something that I watch with great interest. The shells are quite lovely. Please continue your crew posts in-between the skating ones.