You can also browse our growing archive – Carlos Dinares, Robin Williams (truncated) and a couple of others recorded by other users – Jim Dietz the US coach on Coxswains, BBC at Rowing Hexham (Yorkshire), The Rowing Bullympics (humour).
I have just returned from a weekend coaching in Invercargill. And, yes, I have heard the joke before; you know, the ones which goes something along the lines of “I won a raffle; first prize was a weekend in Invercargill. And second prize was a week there…” Invercargill is about the southernmost rowing centre in the world. It is a long, long way from the glamorous centres of our sport. From the Rotsee, the Charles, from Eton Dorney.
Invercargill is nearly as far south as you can go in New Zealand and the weather is not renowned for its friendliness. That part of the country is in the Roaring Forties and the standard wind is southwest, cold and wet. Most of the country likes to look down on the Southlanders, they must be provincial and backward. After all they haven’t joined the rush to the sunny and fashionable northern regions.
But. And it is a big but. New Zealand Rowing is still basking in the glow of Olympic success.
At the recent games in London NZ had a fabulous regatta. Twenty six athletes won three gold and two bronze medals. Four of these athletes are Southlanders, from Invercargill, that looked down on place at the bottom end of the world. Nathan Cohen was in the M2x that produced that amazing sprint that brought a win. Storm Uru was in the LM2x that had arguably the rough side of the conditions and the unsportsmanlike behaviour of the Brits and still brought home a bronze. Storm’s brother Jade was in the M4- and Louise Ayling in the WL2x. Invercargill has a population of about 50,000. NZ has a population of 4.4million. So 1% of the country produced 15% of the rowers in the team.
It seems to me that instead of looking down our noses at the southerners we should be looking up at them and asking them how they do it. How does a small town with a small rowing community consistently produce way more than their share of winners?
I have some ideas about the reasons behind the success. Whenever I visit Invercargill I notice the old fashioned hands on style. This weekend they held the first of the regular Winter Training Programme camps for promising young rowers. It was also the first of the regular winter series of 7km races. There was activity on the river all weekend. Young, old, fast and slow they all came out to row. Children cycle out to row on the Oreti, a river shared with fish and ducks (and fishermen and duck shooters), parents join in with maintenance and fund raising. The kids I coached said “Thank you” after each session. Simple stuff, but rowing in Southland is proof that simple still works.
Rudyard Kipling, the poet of the British Empire, reputedly called Invercargill “The last lamp-post in the world”. I would rather think of it as a shining beacon on the road to Olympic excellence.
With another FREE RowingChat coming up, there’s no excuse to miss Ben Hunt-Davis talking about how he achieved his Olympic Gold
Medal and then translated his athletic lessons into business success. With his inspiring book “Will it make the boat go faster?” he’s dedicated his life to helping others achieve their dream. Get your questions in when you sign up to this free event and Ben will be ready to answer them on the 23rd of May.
To join us for this RowingChat go to the following link and grab your ticket HERE.
We’re excited to continue bringing world class rowers and coaches to you so make the most of it. Get your questions in and get talking. For some, it has been the chance of a lifetime.
Questions our guests have already asked Ben:
- “If you could go back to pre 2000, what one thing would you change and do differently, and is there anything post Olympics that you would do differently?”
- “Did you ever have trouble with motivation / burnout and if so what did you do to work through it?”
Our chat with Carlos Dinares is still up for you to hear to so you still have a chance to experience RowingChat right now:
RowingChat: bringing you some of the best coaches and athletes from the world of rowing
RowingChat is a live and interactive online webinar where viewers get to hear interviews with some of the greatest figures in rowing while text chatting with them directly.
Ask questions straight to our guests using the text chat service during the session or send your questions in beforehand when you sign up.
Get training tips, listen to rowing stories, and start improving yourself as a rower and a rowing coach through RowingChat.
Win a ticket to RowingChat with Robin Williams simply by asking him a question.
Click the picture below, enter in your details and you could win one of two tickets, it’s as simple as that.
Check out questions some attendees have already asked over in our previous RowingChat blog post.
Robin Williams led the British Women’s Pair racing team (Heather Stanning and Helen Glover) to Gold at the 2012 Olympic Games.
He can help you on your way to Gold as well….
RowingChat: Online, live and interactive interviews with leading rowers and coaches around the globe.
Get a ticket, get online and enjoy the show, while joining the live text chat so you can talk straight to our guests.
See you all on RowingChat,
The Rowperfect Team
Robin Williams is the quiet man of British Rowing. Since leaving the Boat Race programme he’s rarely interviewed but remembered for the technique columns he’s written for the British Regatta and Rowing Magazine.
RowingChat is a regular webinar interview with top rowing coaches and personalities from around the world. Designed to help you improve your rowing as a coach or athlete, RowingChat allows you to set the agenda, ask the questions and get the insight you want from some of the most experienced participants in our sport.
Questions our guests have already asked Robin Williams:
John: “Are individual athletes now training to the limit of their physiological competences, leaving us to find more extreme specimens to improve on performance?”
Paul: “Do you find it easier to coach men or women?”
Nick: “what is the best technical sculling drill?”
Carlos: “How many sessions a week do you use to build rowing skills by doing drills with the crews you coach? Do you do it on specific sessions for that or just use part of the practice? ”
Recently I published a blog discussing the application of Gladwell’s book Outliers to rowing, if any. In it I mentioned the magic number of 10,000 hours of practice and learning that Gladwell had observed as a common factor of genius. Is this applicable to rowing? Is it possible to row for 10,000 hours in an athletic lifetime?
Using the biographical data on the FISA webpage brief calculation makes it clear – both Eric Murray and Hamish Bond had probably rowed at least 10,000 hours before there magnificent performance at the Olympics last year.
- Average age of all medallists at the London Games was 25 years
- Average age of all Rowing medallists at the London Olympics was 28 years
I don’t have data on when they stared rowing for all the rowing medallists (or to be precise I haven’t gone to the trouble of getting it!) but it would be fair to assume that most of the medallists had been rowing at a good level at least since they were 20. This certainly makes 10,000 hours of training very much possible.
The implication is plain – Miles Make Champions! I have quoted this before and will no doubt quote it again. Volume in training pays off. If you want to row fast then the basis is simple. Go out and row a lot!
The online rowing community is buzzing with ideas for our RowingChat on 26th February with Tim McLaren.
We need your help.
What questions would you ask Tim?
You may not be coming to the event, but we’ll write up his answers in future blog posts.
Add suggestions in the comments.
Event details – RowingChat with Tim McLaren
This first Rowing Chat session is with Tim McLaren. The former US Rowing Head Coach and now, Head Coach of New South Wales Institute of Sport, Australia.
Get yourself out of the slough of winter training demotivation with these top tips from Brad Alan Lewis, Olympic Gold medallist 1984 2x.
Each is taken from his latest book, Lido For Time. A training diary of his Olympic year.
We’ve put in automatic links for you to tweet your favourite ones and share them with your Twitter followers.
1 - “The ability to row in any conditions, raging crosswind, two-foot tall jet ski wakes, torrential downpour, is absolutely essential in order to be a champion sculler. It all comes under the heading of boatmanship. Some races are won on nothing more than superior boatmanship.”
(Tweet This Quote)
2 - “One training device is the ergometer. I never owned one, never trained on one, and practically never used one. The few national team tests I took on ergs were dismal failures, which worked wonders to further my dislike of these beastly creatures. Boring. Tedious. Noisy. Ergs have greatly cheapened rowing. Graceless. Greasy. Grim. The erg is to rowing what having sex by yourself is to having sex. Stop it!”
(Tweet This Quote)
3 - “Long live the elite rower’s motto:’early to bed, early to rise, never meet the regular guys.’”
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4 - “Good technical coaching is extremely rare. Some of the most respected coaches in the country have no eye for technique whatsoever. As in, none. Basically, a ‘good-eye coach’ needs to have the correct idealized image of good rowing technique…must be able to watch a rower and determine what he or she is doing wrong…communicate what the sculler is doing wrong…offer methods / strategies / drills that will allow a sculler to make the needed changes…be willing to share their expertise…and once in a while they must pay a visit to Newport Beach to watch me scull. Last but not least, they must be able to secure a coaching launch from one of the local college programs.”
(Tweet This Quote)
5 - “As you become more proficient, fewer people can offer you advice, although in truth, that’s when you need it the most because the stakes just keep getting higher and higher.”
(Tweet This Quote)
6 - “To miss a workout (for no good reason) when you’re training for the Worlds or Olympics is utterly devastating. You know that you’ll never again have that unique window of time: Wednesday, November 9, any year, 3:17 PM – 5:58 PM. You Missed it. Your opponent on the other side of the country (or planet) however, did not miss it. He rowed his 20 kilometers; he managed to make a tiny little improvement, (which will then grow like a weed in his skill-set), and in eight months time he will kick your ass. No matter how you cut it, you are fucked! Grind your teeth, curse the idiot coach who changed the locks, who couldn’t have made the national team if his life depended on it.”
(Tweet This Quote)
7 - “You need flawless balance on the recovery. You need white hot focus and the concentration to row square blades cleanly for seven miles. Smooth water doesn’t hurt either.”
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8 - “If you want to be your best, spend a lot of time exploring what is more than enough. Push yourself until the bar is lying immobile across your chest. Push yourself right off the edge of your capacity.”
(Tweet This Quote)
Buy Brad Alan Lewis’ book
GB Medalists and Team GB members across seven different sports have launched a new initiative that enables people to sample life as an Athlete and uniquely help fund both grass roots and elite sport.
Legacy 300 is a free of charge fundraising initiative for local sports clubs, good causes and charities, and has been created to generate funds out of the immense interest in the Team GB Athletes. For local sports clubs, it is a unique scheme that enables the wider community to support both the elite and grassroots sports, and enable the Athletes to support the widest possible range of local sports clubs, rather than favouring just a few.
There are over 300 places on Athlete Experience Days up for grabs, and each one offers an opportunity to meet stars of the summer and to get an insight into the ways in which they prepare to compete against the world. Athletes are promising to be gentle and stress that above all else it’s great fun for both sides and people go home with a lifetime of memories and souvenirs.
Whether by auction, raffle, or resale to corporates, local sports clubs have the ability to use these places to encourage people to support their own fundraising efforts. A reserve price goes to the Elite Athlete delivering the experience, with 100% above that price going towards the local sports club or good cause auctioning the item
Sophie Hoskings one of several 2012 Medalists involved in this scheme, detailed what the scheme wished to help deliver.
“Legacy 300 is a great way of continuing the momentum of an amazing summer of sport by raising money for local sport. Through the format of an auction we are able to offer an experience that gives something back to grass root sport.”
With an initial coverage of seven sports, and the opportunity for people to create their own experiences, the widest possible range of athletes are set to be involved. One of the fundamental hopes is that it provides a revenue stream for the Athletes of those sports that captured the imagination during the summer, but are now facing uncertain funding.
Scheme’s Co-ordinator, David Cotton explains what clubs need to do.
“Simply request an auction pack and give it a whirl. There is no outlay required, if successful with your auction 100% of the money raised above the reserve price goes to you, you have the right to auction off individual spaces or as a group activity. Athletes will be paid direct by the successful bidder once a mutually acceptable date has been agreed.”
The scheme is also open to Charities and other good causes.
Interested parties are invited to visit www.partyforthepodium.com and click on the Legacy 300 page.