BY RICH DAVIS
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER
During the summer, staying in shape and building strength should be the primary focus. Rowers can achieve these goals in many ways: running, biking, swimming, surfing, even rowing.
Young athletes should exercise at least 50 minutes to develop aerobic capacity. If they need to improve their rowing, they might sign up for a short session at a rowing camp or join a club and row occasionally.
Why not row more? Young athletes will not develop properly if they engage in the same sport exclusively all year long. I recommend that coxswains seek a challenging sport or fitness program to increase their athleticism. Some of my best coxswains were accomplished athletes in other sports — wrestling, cross-country running, skiing and swimming — and as a result they understood exactly what their rowers were going through during a race and knew intuitively when to ask for more. They also commanded the respect of their crewmates.
There are summer rowing camps that offer specific coaching for coxes who may not get the instruction they need during the busy school year. Teenagers grow exponentially in the summer, and using this time to strengthen rowing ability in a sensible way will pay dividends during the racing season. The late Harvard coach Harry Parker once said his goal was not to win sprints but for his crews to be as fast as they could and to win as many races as they could. About the speed of each crew, he was a realist.
My goal for crews is to row hard. By rowing hard, I mean developing technique and fitness and learning to push to the limit. If a crew does all this, what more can you ask? The pressure is on the coach to help athletes to row well, to be in top shape, and to love working hard.