Rowing Training & Physiology Program at Columbia University

Sparks Rowing Training Camp

This seven day summer rowing camp at Columbia University is aimed at ambitious athletes with the goal of educating them on rowing-specific training physiology and strength and conditioning.

There is no on-water component -- yes, that’s right.

To elaborate, the use of the word “camp” here is questionable. While it is a seven day course that is meant to be fun and educational, it requires higher levels of maturity and ambition than the average “summer rowing camp.” Athletes leave with an individualized rowing training program specifically geared to their goals for the rest of the summer designed over the course of their week at Columbia.┬áProgram goals are to:

  • Enable athletes greater understanding, efficiency, and responsibility in their training
  • Empower serious athletes who don’t have the time or resources to attend longer summer rowing development camps
  • Develop the rowing community via educating athletes on training physiology and the above

Intensity and Focus

This is different from our five day rowing camps in Connecticut and Seattle. Athletes should come with an expectation to train both physically and mentally. Classroom education is followed by implementing knowledge during twice daily workouts.

The program also doesn’t end when camp ends. Participants will leave and train independently, but the wonders of the internet will enable athletes to update each other on workouts through the final 2K or workout on their training programs. We will provide the virtual conduit for sharing, but it’s important to say up front that the athletes will need to come with the understanding that they will need to implement what they’ve learned over the course of their time with us at home if it’s to be truly effective.

It’s Elementary, Watson

Our staff is very qualified. Patrick Rufo has enough certifications to take the space of this page, and Nich Parker is in the midst of finishing his Ph.D. in physiology, not to mention the head LWT coach at Columbia. But we’ve found that delivery of information is just as (if not unfortunately more so) important as the information being delivered. Therefore, it’s important to say we care about quality of education and have put work into making the program engaging.

Many in the US rowing community will grimly admit the gaps in agreement on issues of physiology, sport science, and athlete development. Sparks exists largely thanks to a view that there are many different opinions on these issues and helps families on our counseling side find the best “fit” for their athletes. It is not our intention to endorse one school of thought or another at this program -- instead, we aim to teach athletes that such dogmatic thinking actually hinders development in and of itself. Adaptation of the basic principles will carry students a long way!

Coxswains and College Athletes

We are willing to allow coxswains to attend the program for a reduced fee. We realize the number of serious summer opportunities for coxswains is limited, and the price points are high for anything outside of five day collegiate camps. While we will not be teaching our coxswain curriculum, we believe there is benefit for coxswains based on their circumstances and the role their coach expects them to play during the season. We encourage interested coxswains to contact us before registration such that we can discuss whether this program would be a good fit or not.

College club athletes are sometimes in the awkward position of constructing their team’s training program. Given their love for the sport, they are sometimes forced into leadership without having as much information as they’d like. We hope this opportunity appeals to them as well, and will make special efforts for those who find their way to Manhattan.