Rowing in the Off-Season
Jan. 29, 2003
The Virginia Women’s Crew team may have completed their fall season back in November, but that hasn’t slowed them down. Currently, the team is up before the sun preparing for the spring season, the official season in rowing. The week before spring semester classes began, the team also drove down to Florida for a week of winter training.
“We spent a week down in Cocoa Beach where we rowed twice a day and lifted and ran once a day. The weather was nice, a little windy for rowing, but we had fun and worked with a lot of new boats that we will be using for spring racing,” said captain Molly Baker.
Although the spring season doesn’t officially begin until March 15, the women of the rowing team are practicing rigorously to prepare for their upcoming races. In between the fall and spring season races, the team practices 8 hours a week in their off season and 20 hours a week about a month before races begin.
The off-season is relatively short, with practice 3 mornings a week for about 3 hours each. Their workouts as a team are very intense, with lifting and “steady-state”, an hour of continuous working out. On their own, each member is expected to work on increasing endurance with lots of biking, erging, and running stairs. But beginning Monday, February 2nd, the team will move into their 20 hour weeks, with practice 6 days a week, Monday until Saturday morning.
“Lots of years we go back onto the water once we start 20 hour weeks, but this year it is going to take a while for the ice to melt because all of the cold weather we have been having,” Baker said.
The change from the fall to the spring season requires a complete shift in the way that the rowers prepare themselves physically and mentally. Physically there is a change in how the muscles need to be trained to meet the different physical stresses of the spring season, and psychologically there is a change in how the athletes must approach their competition. During the fall season the races consist of long, endurance-based competition of 5000m, which usually take about 15 to 20 minutes. While in the spring, the races consists of shorter, more “sprint” pieces of the official 2000m course, which generally takes about 6 to 8 minutes.
Baker believes that with all of the hard work and practice, her team can improve upon their 4th place spot at last year’s NCAA championship.
“The overall attitude of the team right now is great, everyone seems to be improving and pushing themselves and others to new levels. We are ready to get back on the water, and very excited to race. We will be fast this year, I can definitely guarantee that!”