By Ryan Sparks · August, 2012
Today started with the Olympic final of the Men’s 8+. We have three staff members who were in competition for that boat a short time ago and thus the race was followed with great interest. The US M8+ placed fourth by two tenths of a second. I will not say the reaction was happy amongst our staff, but I will say that for those of us in the know some feel it was a just result. The boat did not qualify at the normal qualification regatta last year and thus had to squeeze into the Games in May via a final qualification. The boat is somewhat young and has gone through much debate over the past year given coaching changes — as a result, we as a country were perhaps unprepared against teams that have been set for the last few years. Potentially this is a lesson for our system — and so our staff feels the result is valuable for the development of USRowing.
The day today was cloudy and cool with occasional showers. It rained on the morning practice for 20 minutes, but the afternoon practice was fine. See the photo below — it was actually quite nice at 78 degrees and provided excellent water to get some kilometers in.
We at Sparks take pride in the fact that our coaching staff has mentioned to us today and yesterday that they are surprised and impressed by both the earnestness and seriousness of our group. Morning and afternoon sessions were focused and conducted with the same coach for each, though coaches rotate crews/athletes over the course of the week. I can say we feel that though the kids get good work done on the water, the atmosphere and their peers at camp is potentially one way they also gain. The day ended with an hour and a quarter classroom session on all things Erg. Vita Scaglione from Oregon State discussed psychology (see the short video below as we discuss performance anxiety) and training (as the kids took copious notes) while Mark Davis from George Washington covered the connection between rowing machines and boat speed. There were a lot of questions that led us down paths like nutrition and recruiting, which are things we’ll cover in more depth tomorrow. The kids seem to have more and more questions as opposed to less and less: and we believe this is a good thing. As I said, we’re trying to open doors here. The day ended with kids jotting down unanswered questions in their notebooks for private coaching tomorrow as camp begins to blossom with rowing energy.