In the great plains of Alberta over the winter rowers are forced to turn to indoor rowing machines to prepare for the summer water season. These winters are long and often hard on rowers, pushing them to search deep for motivation and imagine what the summer will bring. This year saw a new event for the University of Alberta Rowing Team, taking advantage of the spring reading week in February to re-establish the motivation, rekindle the drive and to recall why we do the things we do, literally and figuratively.
Departing on Saturday February 18, 12 rowers, Head Coach Sheila Lindsey and Assistant Coach, volunteer extraordinaire Kris Davis, the team set out for Mill Bay, Vancouver Island.
Upon arrival with a great week ahead, the team settled into the Mill Bay cottages in anticipation for the rowing to begin. Over the course of the week the team was able to fit in over 100km of rowing, taking full advantage of the beautiful facilities shared by Shawnigan Lake School. The facilities provided were a marvel to all and only improved upon by the great weather the team had over the beginning of the week. With challenges for all, the trip was able to rekindle the motivation needed to get the rowers through to the end of the winter season. The workouts not only allowed for water time but reinforced the rowing stroke sometimes lost to the rowing machine and depths of winter building strong goals and achievements to dwell on. As it was a training camp the coaches provided challenges on the water with miles, blisters, new boats, new partners and a new atmosphere but also off the water. The sole day when the team was kept off the water due to winds even strong enough to deter the national team was a perfect moment for a change up with a 14 km run followed by and erg session. The rest of the week may have been wet, but that’s better than frozen. Crews were able to get out in boats ranging from singles to the 8+, getting in technique and finishing it up with some race pieces on the last day. When asked about her training camp experiences this is what one new member of the team reflected to Not many Albertans can answer the question “what did you do over reading week?” with “I rowed over 100 kilometres”, but I was lucky enough to have been given an opportunity to go to Shawinigan Lake with the University of Alberta Rowing Team spending my week rowing on the water, allowing me to give such an answer.
It was a great experience to spend a week dusting off the cobwebs on the skills that many of us had only just learned in the fall. We made huge improvements throughout the course of the week, learned new skills and experienced rowing in small boats for the first time. This week was also filled with firsts for everyone. For some of us, it was our first time on a ferry, and our first time on Vancouver Island. For others, it was our first time sculling, first time in fours, pairs, or doubles, and for me, personally, I was able to experience bowing for the first time; acquiring a much deeper respect for those who bow regularly. Some rowers even took their first swim. All of us got to push ourselves, do things we didn’t know that we were capable of, and had an amazing time doing so. And, of course, there was plenty of team bonding all the while. This week was 100 percent worth the early mornings, the aches and pains, the blisters, and the 16-hour car ride each way for the amazing memories I made and the awesome time spent with the team, and I can’t wait to go again next year!
-Sabina Proctor, UART 2011-2012 Novice team member.
The team did it they accomplished it all and were even able to squeeze in some valuable mental lessons to get set up for the upcoming indoor erg champs in Lacombe Alberta and racing to follow. Not many can say they had such a productive reading week, training, traveling, learning, touring, enjoying time with friends and even getting in some homework but this crew can. It is not without the excellent planning skills of Coach Sheila, Coach Kris and team captains Marion Wolff and Andrew Douglas that this event could take place. It would also have been a rather lacking trip, in terms of rowing if the Shawnigan Lake school had not opened their doors to us and let us use their equipment and facilities, Thank you for letting us share in this experience and thanks to the gracious hosts at Maple bay cottages who gave shelter to worn and weary rowers after some long days.
A great first training camp for the UART the next years can only get better as more rowers join this opportunity and more experiences are had. With the week complete the troupe has returned to the ERG with a handful of knowledge, up next March 10 will see the team compete in Lacombe Alberta at the indoor erg championships the last event before spring break up and the beginnings of the 2012 summer rowing season, it is sure with a group like this great things are to come.
Stay tuned for future updates.