WHAT IS CREW?
American schools and colleges use the term "crew" to designate the sport of rowing. Outside of the academic world, the sport is known as rowing. Rowing is a general term to mean rowing a boat with one oar per person (sweep rowing) or two oars per person (sculling). The forward section of a boat is the first part that crosses the finish line. A bow ball is mounted on the bow to protect the boat and unsuspecting oarsmen from damage.
Crew (rowing) is a sport where you train on land, train on the water, then compete on the water. You compete in boats of varying sizes: eights (eight rowers with one oar each and a coxswain who is the person that steers the boat); fours (four rowers with a coxswain); quads (four rowers only but each rower has two oars); and doubles (two rowers with two oars only).
Crew is a spring sport. Though there is usually an optional winter training program to get the rower in shape, the official high school competitive season is in the spring. Generally it begins the end of February and culminates with the Scholastic Rowing Championships the end of May.
Rowing is a total body workout. Rowing only looks like an upper body sport. Although upper body strength is important, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs. Rowing is one of the few athletic activities that involve all of the body's major muscle groups. It is a great aerobic workout and is a low-impact sport on the joints. Rowers are probably the world's best athletes. They haven't been called the world's most physically fit athletes for nothing. The sport demands endurance, strength, balance, and mental discipline.
Rowing is also the ultimate walk-on sport. It's easier to learn than you think. All you need is the willingness to be committed to working your hardest, and to be part of a team.
Teamwork is number one. Rowing isn't a great sport for athletes looking for MVP status. It is however, the perfect sport for individuals willing to work together as a team to achieve their goals.
Rowing offers possibilities beyond high school, with rowers having the opportunity to earn scholarships and row at the collegiate level at schools across the country. Most importantly though, it gives students the opportunity to be a part of a high school athletic team; a team that values commitment and rewards efforts.
People new to the crew program can be met with a bewildering array of new terms and needs. This article gives a brief description of some things to expect this spring:
Crew practice is held at the Sandy Run Rowing center off of Hampton Road. Crew is a combination of physical conditioning and skills development. As a result, your child will be involved in running, weight lifting, "erging" (using a rowing machine) and other exercise in addition to water time in a shell. Proper concentration on "land work" makes the water time in the shells much more productive. Clothing should be comfortable, layered, and washable. It should not be loose and baggy, as clothing could get caught in the rower's seat causing damage to the clothing and possibly the seat itself. Your child should also be aware that time in the shell will inevitably result in grease on the back of shorts or legs from the seat runners. You may want to keep an old towel in the car for them to sit on.
Coaches choose members of a particular boat based on the rower's individual skills and the best combination of rowers for a cohesive, effective boat. Rowers may move to a different boat as the season progresses. When on the water, rowers are accompanied by a coach in a motorized chase boat with life preservers for all the rowers. In the rare instances when practice is cancelled, the students will be notified through the school.
Spring races start the end of March, are held on Saturdays (the full schedule is found in "Regattas" "Schedule") and a set of races on a Saturday is called a "Regatta". Your child should know at practice on the Friday before the approximate time of their race. Most races are held on the Occoquan reservoir, and the reviewing stand and race headquarters are at Sandy Run Regional Park, accessible from Rt. 123, several miles north of the town of Occoquan. Parking at Sandy Run is extremely limited and costs $10.00 (08-09 fee, subject to change) when available; please carpool if at all possible. The viewing stand for the races is a somewhat strenuous 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot. A van also provides transportation to the viewing stand for a nominal fee. There are permanent porta-john type facilities and a refreshment stand at the race course. The stands are concrete and there is no covered shelter. If in doubt, dress warmly and prepare for rain.
The schedules for the races on any given day may change by as much as an hour, depending on the weather, start-up problems, and some cancelled races. This is especially true for the first few races. All rowers assemble at Sandy Run early on Saturday morning of the race day. Their coach will inform them of the time they are to arrive. When their race is called, the rowers launch their boat from the dock and row down to the start. A race takes about 5 minutes, but only the last minute takes place in full view of the stands. Officials in chase boats follow the shells up the race course to judge the race, and for added safety. On any spring Saturday there will be over 20 schools from all over the Washington Metropolitan area present, along with several from as far away as Philadelphia, Norfolk, or Atlantic City.
Rowers are done usually mid to late afternoon, depending on the number of races and the day's progress. Practice and races proceed in the rain, unless there is lightening. If the weather on race day is cold and very windy, novice races may be cancelled in the interest of safety, although races for more experienced rowers may continue. In rare instances, the entire regatta may be cancelled depending on the conditions.
First time rowers generally do not participate in the overnight trips to away regattas during the spring season. These decisions are made partway through the season, and depend on the skill of the rower and the boat on which they row. However, if your child is chosen for these trips, there will be an additional fee to cover lodging, food, and transportation.
Keep it Simple: Break the stroke down into digestible parts, taking care of one thing at a time.
Establish the right mental image: Use pictures, diagrams, videotapes, and watch experienced rowers so you can imitate their movements. Better visualization leads to a faster change in technique and is an important first step in learning to row.
Miles make rowers: Because the stroke is a natural motion, the repetition of rowing will teach you much; you will learn by trial and error.
Several fundamentals to sweep rowing should always be obeyed;
Timing: Many rowers achieve it by keeping an eye on the oar in front of them, using it as a cue to keep their own oar perfectly synchronized. If the timing of even one oar in an eight-oared shell is off, then the entire boat will suffer. It is the coxswain's job to keep the rowers in time, calling out to those who are early or late with their blades.
Hard Catch: A hard catch is accomplished by raising the forearms crisply up about 6 inches when the rower is rolled all the way up his slide and is compressed into the stretchers. The motion that drops the oar into the water, when done correctly, should result in a small back splash.
Slow Hands: The hands should lead the body out of the finish and into the recovery. If the rower rushes them away from his body, the run of the shell will be checked. An indication of this failing is small spacing between the puddles, or whorls left in the water at the finish from the last stroke. During the recovery the hands should finish, then move out of the lap at a speed that won't vary at any point.
Keep Over the Keel: Many rowers lean from one side to the other to compensate for a flaw in their stroke. Leaning is not the way to balance a boat and can lead to bad habits. A coxswain in a shell where all the rowers are perfectly centered over the keel should be able to see only one head, one torso, and two sets of hands.
Never Look Out of the Shell: Coxswains look around and steer, rowers row and nothing else. Turning the head from one side to another will upset the balance of the boat. Looking around also means the rower isn't looking at the rower in front of them, checking the timing and staying aware of any increase or decrease in the rate, or strokes per minute.
Don't Rush the Slide: In the excitement of a race, many rowers want to rush their oar in and out of the water, thinking that the more strokes they take, the faster the boat will go. Rushing and flailing back and forth on the slide leads to nothing but a disorganized, sloppy boat where no one is effective and tempers will certainly flare. One rushed slide can be felt by everyone in the boat, the break in momentum passed along and affecting each slide's speed. As the rower concentrates on the principle of slow hands to lead him out of the finish, he should also keep his seat moving at the same controlled rate.
Do Not Attempt to Reboard a Racing Shell After Capsizing: Any effort to pull yourself aboard will probably ruin the shell forever. If your boat does flip, then make sure your feet are out of the stretcher, and slide the oars until they are running parallel to the hull. If the dock is only a few yards away, then swim the entire rig back to the float and climb back aboard there. If you are in the middle of the river, wait for help while kicking toward the nearest bank.
(from "The Book of Rowing" by David C. Churbuck and US Rowing Coaching Education)
| NOVEMBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM
Coxswains vital to rowing - The Daily Iowan
The Iowa rowing team whistles through the water, wrecking wakes standing in its way.
The rowers are tired, slightly slowing subconsciously as their bodies begin to tire. Their chances at a fast finishing time are evaporating into the air.
Then, a voice radiates, encouraging them to exert extra energy from within.
The rower’s boat skips along the water with wonderful speed. Finishing in a blistering time, the leader of the boat, the coxswain, congratulates them.
The coxswain is to rowing what a quarterback is to football — leaders, captains, and authoritative teammates.
Iowa head rowing coach Mandi Kowal said coxswains have the hardest job. They must have the confidence and ability to conduct constructive criticism to improve the boat’s speed.
“You have to be willing to correct your peers,” Kowal said. “They’re a leader. It’s hard when they need to motivate or if the rower’s having a hard time. You have to confront.”
Positioned in the back, facing the direction the boat is going, coxswains must motivate the crew and steer, in addition to instructing and preparing the rowers.
Senior coxswain Sheila Rinozzi said she is like a liaison between the coach and the rowers.
Stimulating and instructing her teammates is key, and doing this while maintaining control over the boat’s direction can be complicated.
“I kind of think of it as I need to be the brains of the boat and do the thinking for them,” Rinozzi said.
“Most importantly, I steer the boat, and you want the shortest course possible. That means cutting corners and maintaining a straight line on the straightaway.”
Rinozzi said the middle of the race is usually the hardest in terms of keeping the rowers’ speed up because the original high of storming out of the gate is gone, but the finish is still thousands of meters away.
She said knowing the rowers of your boat is vital when attempting to grasp their potential.
“You got to know your rowers so well,” Rinozzi said. “I just know what I can say to each one of them to keep them on their ‘A’ game and keep them pushing, whether it’s reminding them of our goals or playing little tricks.”
Senior rower Megan Erickson said the coxswains’ job is more important than people realize. Not only can rowers not see where they are going, but the act of rowing is so intense that thinking becomes a difficult task.
Coxswains force the women to think about rowing, nothing else.
“You are pulling so hard, that every thought just goes completely out of your brain,” Erickson said. “Without a coxswain, it’s really hard to stay focused.”
Additionally, coxswains must be creative in their motivational tactics. Constantly harping on teammates can grow stale and be ineffective.
One of Rinozzi’s motivational ploys is playing movie quotations from pivotal scenes in sports films.
“I try to find any little thing I can to make our team a little bit more motivated than anybody else,” she said. “They are all quotes from movies that everybody loves, like Miracle and Any Given Sunday. It gives everyone chills and pumps them up before the race.”
Kowal said she’s thankful for having quality coxswains through the years. Her coxswains have always been able to balance being both a teammate and a coach. Without them, relaying messages to her rowers would be difficult.
“I’m like the main part of the stereo, and they are all the speakers,” Kowal said. “Their job is really critical. I have a lot of respect for them.”
Winter Conditioning (WC) provides an opportunity for rowers to get into shape before the spring season begins. It is run by the SC Crew coaches. Attendance by rowers is not required but is strongly encouraged. WC is open to any SCSS student. WC is held in the SCSS Weight Room (F-101) and the Fitness Center (F-111). WC will begin on November 29, 2010 and ends in mid-February, 2011, date TBA. See the calendar on the Home page for the holiday schedule.
- Winter conditioning takes place at SCSS in the weight room and the multi-purpose room.
- Winter conditioning is not required of rowers but is strongly recommended since rowing is a strenuous sport that requires good physical condition of arms, legs and torso. Students participating in winter sports are not expected to participate in winter conditioning.
- Per FCPS policy, winter conditioning is open to all students.
- PRE-REQUISITES: Physicals must be completed before winter conditioning. The VHSL physical form and the FCPS Emergency Care form must be on file prior to WC, so register early! NOTE: Per FCPS rules, rowers must have ALL forms (e.g. physicals, Emergency Care forms, and proof of medical insurance...) filled out and submitted BEFORE the first day of the crew season. There is NO grace period; any missing forms and rower cannot participate.
- Come dressed for running, outdoor work and indoor work; e.g. layer your clothing!
- “Erg”ing (rowing machine)
- Doing circuits
- Working out in the weight room
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