Friday, September 7, 2012

Skittles Sweeps!

I wasn't able to go skating on Wednesday because I broke out in a weird rash on my arm and had taken so much Benadryl throughout the day I didn't think I could safely stand on skates...It is mostly gone now, so I think it is just stress from work.  Work is stressful right now.  We did manage to get nice pictures of the house taken to list it as a rental.  If you know where I live, and know anyone looking for a nice rental in this area, let me know!

So Thursday night was rowing again.  I did not get to scull, instead I went out in a 4+, which is a sweep boat (I was 2 seat, second from back, portside oar) with a coxswain.  The three other rowers were experienced, our coxswain is also new, and it was her first time coxing.

So, how did it go?  I don't like sweep.  It is much harder on my shoulders, harder on my wrists (well, not as bad as Sunday was- but that was a hard practice in the single), and gives me blisters.  Surely my fingers are going to callus up soon?  I get these same two blisters everytime I sweep.

The actual practice went pretty well.  We ran through some standard drills, which I haven't done before.  We started with a "pick drill", rowing by 2s.  Thank goodness the stern pair started, because it let me watch what was going on.  A pick drill is where you add on one part of the stroke at a time.  You start arms only (and pretty much don't move anywhere), then arms-body (that moves a bit), then arms-body-half slide, and then arms-body-full slide. 
After the stern pair and bow pair both did this drill we rowed 1 minute stretches of one pair, both pairs, other pair.   This was a real challenge for the coxswain, who had to remember to say things like "stern pair out, bow pair in in 2" and then count the strokes.  Because she was new, the launch (small motor boat that carries life jackets for us, and also coaches) driver was having to feed her lines. So then I was having to decide "two strokes from when she said it, or do I wait for the cox to get around to saying it?"  Very odd, and it didn't seem to get much better as practice went on...  Now that- OMG terrifying.  When all four of us were rowing it was an absolute tippy mess. I'm sure my face showed just how terrified I was, but it felt like we were going to topple over.   Thankfully, by the end of practice we managed to get our balance together and were rowing quite well, though maybe not as stable as we could be (my oars alternated between being way above the water, and gliding on the water- so even though we felt not-tippy, obviously we weren't being consistent).

Next we did a drill called "cut the cake", and Ning told me the purpose of it was to have a steady oar height.  Again we did it by pairs, and then altogether.  In pairs, it went very well.  Altogether, it was pretty good, but not nearly as stable.  The way this drill works is you take a stroke, and then when you bring the oar out of the water, you feather it, hold it above the water and lean arms/body back and forth 3 times (without the oar height changing- holding over the water), and then take another stroke.  Good ab workout too.  The reason why it is important is oar handle height is what sets the balance of the boat. So when we were rowing insanely tippy, it was likely because our oar heights were all different.  Not putting the oar in the water at the same time, or taking it out together seems to be more of an effect on speed than stability.

Finally, have you ever wondered what a cox says to their boat while they are rowing?  It isn't "stroke, stroke, stroke".  I'm still not sure what it is though, because the woman who was coxswain was CHATTY!  We were rowing a hard interval (probably not for the other ladies- but it was hard for me) and she's telling us "heavier on port side, okay, even pressure, I really wanted to see Zach Walls, you know the Iowa student, talk at the convention tonight. I think he is probably on while we are out here.  I bet it will be on youtube tomorrow, isn't youtube great. You can find anything on there...."   The stroke seat (first person) occasionally would chat back with her (it would be rude not to), but she is microphoned so we can all hear her, but in the back of the boat there is no way we can talk to her...  It was just really weird.  Caroline drove the launch, and at one point had us do a 100 yard power interval and she kind of did the standard motivational yelling "catch together, don't rush those slides, I'm catching up to you, stay ahead of me, really pull, get the most of each stroke"  I think that is more likely what coxswains really say...  

It did teach me though- when it is my turn to be coxswain (everyone has to do it, and there is no way the 5'0" girl isn't going to get pulled into it...):  Don't chatter. 

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