2009 USRowing U-23 Selection Camp Journal

August 4, 2009- Sarah

I have been back in the states for a week now, and it has given me an opportunity to reflect on my experience this summer. Overall the racing at the U-23 World Championship event was the most intense athletic experience I have ever been involved in. The athletes competing at that level are some of the best in their respective countries. I am sure you have seen the results of the races so I just wanted to share this thought with you. Throughout the summer and especially in the Czech Republic I met parents, coaches, and athletes that asked me what school I’m from. When I told them I went to Grand Valley their reaction was, “Wow, I have heard a lot about that program. When did Grand Valley get so good?” This was a big change from responses in the past, “Where the heck is Grand Valley?”

Over the past four seasons I’ve seen the team grow tremendously. From the athletes, to boat speed, to the facilities, to the intensity of training…all aspects of the program have improved. I am excited to see the continued improvement and success of the rowers currently in the program and in the future. As for me, I plan to continue my training with goals of one day competing at the international level again. I am looking forward to seeing more of my Grand Valley teammates at this level in the near future.

July 21, 2009- Sarah

We arrived in the Czech Republic around 7 am, (1 am Michigan time) on Sunday. The flight was excellent! I was lucky to have a seat in the emergency row with more leg room, seated next to one of the guys from the coxed 4. We chatted a lot about our respective school’s rowing teams and about what to expect from our trip overseas. I also slept a lot!

Once arriving in the Czech we took a bus to our hotel and got our rooms. The rooms we are staying in are a little smaller than American hotel rooms, but very accommodating. The beds are amazing-so comfortable! We were allowed to take a short nap when we first got there. Everyone was so tired and trying to adjust to the six hour time difference.

We are staying in a small town about a half hour from the race course, so we take a shuttle bus with the whole team to and from practice. On Sunday we had one practice, just to loosen up and get the cankles out from the 8 hour flight. We were given a Wintech boat to row in for our races. On Monday we had two practices both steady state with some hard strokes to get back into the rhythm of our boat. In between practices we went through an accreditation process where we had our picture taken and are passports were registered. It was a long and boring process, yet necessary for competition.

All of our meals are scheduled for us so we eat lunch at the race course and breakfast and dinner at our hotels. The food here is mainly rice or potatoes and some kind of meat with tons of gravy. The breakfast is the best part though, breads and jams and nutella, and fruit, and eggs, and nutella, and meats, and did I mention nutella?

So far my experience in the Czech Republic has been interesting and tons of fun. I am bonding a lot with my teammates and meeting new people as well! It is awesome to be at the racecourse with about fifty different countries, all sporting their team’s colors. Apparently it is a big thing to trade gear at the end of the racing, so I’ve already spotted some gear from other countries that I am looking to trade for ha!

We start racing on Thursday and I am so excited! We practiced a start and 500 meters today, and it went awesome! I think we are ready to race and I can’t wait until we do!

July 18, 2009- Sarah

We loaded up the bus today around 10:30am after a short row early this morning. I am on my way to New York City to fly out of the JFK International airport and travel to the Czech Republic! I can’t believe the camp has ended and that we are on our way to the U23 World Championships.

The last several days have been very busy. Since trials, we have been practicing two to three times daily. We made a change to the lineup and things have really started to come together. Sarah Gribler moved to stroke seat, Theresa Shields will row three, Laura Nicholson two, and I am rowing bow seat. Most sessions have been long, steady state training rows. They are very similar to the rows we do at Grand Valley in that the rates are lower and we step up every few minutes. The major difference is the intensity (they call it “aggressive” here); the steady state rows here are a little firmer with the power. We have also worked on our speed and starts together. The coaches installed a speed coach in our 4-, so we have been challenging ourselves to see how low we can get the 500m split. Our fastest 500m split was a 1:33, and the coach’s thought that was moving in a 4-. We have done some pieces alongside the senior national team and have been holding our own. We are very excited to race and see how we stack up against our international competition.

When we arrive in the Czech Republic we will be doing our training at the racecourse in Racice. I heard it was a beautiful area so I am excited to see everything. I am also excited to race in my new USA gear, a nice perk for making it through camp! Our first race is July 23rd at 9:30am…that is 3:30am Michigan time for those of you that want to watch it online! If we win the heat, we go straight to the finals on July 26th at 10:45am, otherwise we will race the repachage at 9:30am on July 24th. There are nine countries in our event… you can follow the racing at www.worldrowing.com.

We are getting ready for the flight now, so the next update will come from the Czech Republic.

July 8, 2009- Sarah

It has been a whirlwind of activity since packing up and moving to Princeton, NJ last Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, Kelsey was sent home before we left, but I think she made a great impression on the coaches and represented Grand Valley very well. I am very proud to be her teammate and I am sure she will bring back a lot of information for next year’s team. I have been without a computer, so you will have to excuse the late update :). The schedule here has been very similar to the one we followed in Oak Ridge, TN. We wake up early for a morning practice, between 7:30am or 9:00am start time, and row at either Mercer or Princeton Training Center. We go back to our dorms to relax and come back around 4 pm for a second session. Practices have lasted between two and four hours and have included our warm-up runs, core workouts, some weight training, and, of course, a lot of on water rowing. I have been in a four since I have arrived here and have been receiving a lot of coaching from both Steve and Annie. My biggest adjustment has been to sit up a little taller to match up with the girls I am rowing with. They have also told me to be more aggressive, and that has been a challenge at times…trying to match up and stay agressive. Otherwise, the style that they teach here in Princeton is very similar to what I learned at GVSU.

The biggest difference between collegiate rowing and elite rowing is the training load. The national team women here train a lot! They row, erg, run, lift, and take each exercise very seriously. Most girls here are conscious of their nutrition as well. Coach Tom wants the average body fat to be 15%! They are fit and are proud of their fitness level. It has been a very cool experience to be around them and to see how they train for the past week.

I am racing in the 4- tomorrow at the U-23 trials in Mercer, NJ. The boat consists of Theresa Shields (Wisconsin) at stroke, Sarah Gribler (Michigan), myself, and Laura Nicholson (Harvard) at bow. We have been rowing quite a bit together since arriving here and things are really starting to mesh well. I am confident that we will put together a solid effort in the morning. And the great thing about it is, if we win, we get to go to the U-23 World Championships in the Czech Republic! Woo!

I also ran into GV alumni Dana Schmunk today, and he wished me good luck even though he is coaching the two Penn A.C. 4-‘s I am racing against. It was neat to have someone here from GVSU rooting for me to do well, though be it quietly :).

June 24, 2009-Kelsey

8 pairs seat raced this morning, 4 at a time, side by side. 2x 1500 meters, 32 stroke rate with a start. Sarah and I have always done time trials for seat racing, so this was new to us, and we were in pairs. Well, actually I was in a straight four at stroke seat. Sarah was with Sarah Gribler from Michigan. My four went well, it was the first time we had gone at a 32 for a long distance. We were short a stroke coach, so I didn’t have one. The coaches here are very, very strict about going over on the stroke rate; if they catch you even a ½ beat over, they don’t count your piece. Since I didn’t have one though, they were more lenient with us.

Second practice was 8k with new pair partners! I am with Elise from UCLA. Part of our drills was doing inside hand only in the pair, it was so difficult! I have been trying to fix my technique –mainly keeping my chest up at the catch so I don’t shoot my slide. By the time we rowed into the cove, we were matching up really well and I am anxious to see how we will do seat racing Friday.

Joan made meatloaf, baked potatoes and broccoli for dinner, and one of her friends Susan came over and joined us. For dessert she made cherry crisp, it was most delicious!

June 23, 2009-Sarah

Today we woke up an hour later than usual and it felt great! Practices just keep getting pushed back later and later and so we started our workout in broad daylight, rather than in the dark when the sun starts to come up. It was HOT! We went for our daily run and then did a nice steady state workout in our race boats for tomorrow. I was in a pair with Sarah Gribler again. We did a 2k warm-up, 4X2k at an 18, 20, 22, and 24, stroke rate changing each 500 meters, and a 2k cool down. The row was solid. We were really starting to row well together and I was excited to see what we could do for racing. Kelsey was in a straight four. After the row we engaged in “supervised stretching” which means we don’t stretch well enough on our own so the coaches gave us specific stretches to do while they made sure we did them correctly.

After practice Theresa, Kelsey, and I made a delicious pancake breakfast. We added chocolate chips, and bananas and enjoyed the delectable goodness. Once we finished we pretty much fell right asleep. A full stomach really helps lull you into dreamland :).

This afternoon’s practice was a nice easy row in our race boats. It was just an 8k steady state with a couple drills. The row went pretty well. We got on the water quickly and we got off the water quickly, so I am hoping to race quickly! Kelsey was in a straight four again, which she said felt really good. It was a nice easy day preparing us for a tough day tomorrow. I hope we go fast!

June 22, 2009-Kelsey

I hate fog! We were supposed to seat race this morning, but of course, the fog had to ruin it all. Even after thunder storming all night, it still hadn’t gotten everything out of its system, and decided to downpour on us while running. At one point a huge bolt of lightning cracked and made everyone jump about 3 feet in the air! Our ab circuit got harder (less recovery time) this morning, but it didn’t seem hard to us so our coach said we were ready for the next step in the ab circuit. We took out 2 fours; I was 2 seat in one of them, and 4 pairs. Sarah was with Sarah Gribler from Michigan. The 4- workout was 5×1500 meters, at a 22, 24, and 26; 500 meters each. The 2- workout was easy 12k with lots of drills, sometimes pausing 4 times during the recovery. The fog made the river creepy, logs and debris was everywhere; the water was brown and gross. I thought it might see the Black Pearl ship from Pirates of the Caribbean surface out of the water. We ended up barely paddling through the water to avoid debris and had to take it in after about 30 minutes. We would seat race at the afternoon practice.

I ate a good breakfast and lunch so I would have lots of energy for the racing. This seat racing could send me home if I don’t do well. The coaches could make cuts anytime. At school, if you lose your seat race you could get kicked out of the boat. Here, if you lose your seat race you go home.

The afternoon was here and I was ready to go. After each piece we switched girls in every seat of the boat, not just one side. I switched after the third and fourth piece, racing against a girl from Columbia and Purdue. I don’t know how I did yet, Steve will post the results tomorrow morning. I think they went well, I felt like I was able to apply my power to my stroke, something I’ve been struggling with after switching sides. After we were done I felt really good about the pieces and I was glad they were done.

Practices now are moved to 9am. The coaches felt like we were spending too much time waiting around for the fog to disappear. Hopefully the time will work, now we can go to bed at midnight and still get over 8 hours of sleep!

June 21, 2009- Sarah

This morning we went on our normal daily 20-minute jog, but this time we took an exciting new route. We ran on a bike path through a woodsy area where there were fun hills, wildlife (turtles, bunnies, squirrels), and sharp turns. It was a lot of fun! Then we came in and stretched, and talked about line-ups and the workout we were about to do. The workout was an easy 12k steady state with some 30-stroke bursts at a 30, 32, and 34. We went out and it was really foggy. I was in a pair with Sarah again and Kelsey was in an eight with girls from Texas, UCLA, Louisville, Washington, and Stanford. We were 4k into the practice when our coach decided that it was too foggy and there was too much debris to continue. We came in and stretched and waited about a half hour for the fog to clear. We went back out and did the workout all over again, so we ended up doing about 16k on the race course.

We had the rest of the day off so we spent it lounging around, taking naps, calling our fathers (It’s Father’s Day!), and spending time on the computer. Then we decided to get out of the house again and go to Wal-Mart to get some food for the week. Joan had her family over and made us all a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner. We decided because she made the dinner, we were going to make the dessert. We made delicious Nilla wafer banana pudding-so good. We ended the night watching the movie, Stick It, and then retiring to bed. It was a nice, relaxing day.

June 20, 2009- Kelsey

Practice this morning started out with our usual 20 minute jog, except this time it was slower, and I thought it was more enjoyable. We went out in 2 eights, Sarah and I were in the Wintech; Sarah at 4 seat and I at 2. The workout was designed to empty our tanks, and we were going to row at some higher rates! 30 strokes on, 15 off; 2 sets. One set consisted of taking 30 strokes at @ 24, 30 @ 26, 30 @ 28, 30 at 26, and 30 @ 24. The next set was at 26, 28, 30, 28, and 26. The two eights stayed even pretty much every piece; sometimes one would beat the other.

Now that practice was done we had a full day of activities ahead of us! After quickly showering we headed to the Waffle House to enjoy a nice breakfast with 8 of our teammates. We wanted to see the movie The Proposal, but had a couple of hours to kill in-between so we went to Starbucks and talked over coffee. It was nice to talk to my teammates outside of rowing and see more of their personality. The movie was funny but the best part was the freezing air conditioning! It was drastically opposite of the 90+ degree humid air outside. After the movie we went to a Mexican restaurant called El Cantarintas and enjoyed chicken chimichangas. Restaurant food tastes good when all you’re eating is quick meals like cereal and sandwiches. The Secret City Festival was taking place right outside of the restaurant so we crossed the street to explore. We walked past dozens of tents selling sand art, handmade coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, clothing, antiques, lots of food, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. There was even a Learn-To-Row tent with an erg; we stayed clear of that one. A few of our girls got airbrush tattoos- Superman, dolphins, and a $ sign. We were sweltering and full of Mexican food so we only stayed for about 45 minutes, then retreated home to cool off. The day flew by from being so busy; but I had so much fun!

June 19, 2009– Sarah

Yesterday they changed practice times from 7 am to 8 am in the morning because we have been having trouble with heavy fog. We got to practice this morning at 7:45 am and the fog was worse than ever! It figured, right? So instead of going out and rowing the time trials, we were told to do a nice EASY 45 minute run. We were given a strict lecture about how the run was supposed to be easy and it was not a competition-usually the competition gets to the best of us and we all end up sprinting by the end of the run every morning-but not today! It was a nice relaxing jog/trot. After the jog we came in and stretched for a bit and were told to rest up for the afternoon row. Apparently it is supposed to be about 95 degrees this afternoon, so we are in for a really hot row.

This afternoon we went out in our race boats and did 3×1750 meters. The first thousand was at a 22 stroke rate and the rest was at a 24 stroke rate. I was in a pair with Sarah Gribler from Michigan. I was a little worried because I was stroking and I had to steer with the foot, meaning any sudden changes with the foot would ruin our course and give us an inaccurate time. So I tried really hard to steer a straight course because that is an important part of pair racing. It turned out that our course was really straight! We matched power pretty well and so we were really able to move the boat well. We even ended up winning one of our races! Kelsey was in a straight four where she did 4×1500 meters and after each race switches were made on port side. Kelsey was on starboard side so she did not have to be switched with anyone. All in all it was a good day of racing. It was fun to do time trials and see how fast we can go in the small boats.

After our row we decided we needed to get out of the house and wear some normal clothes for once. We ate a quick dinner and headed out to Turkey Creek for some Marble Slab ice cream. It was just like ColdStone Creamery where you got to pick out your ice cream and ‘fix ins’ and they mashed it all together. I got snickers, caramel, and vanilla ice cream, of course, and Kelsey got birthday cake ice cream, cookie dough, fudge, and Oreos. It was a delicious treat, offering refreshment from the very hot Tennessee weather.

June 18, 2009-Kelsey

We’ve been having a lot of foggy mornings, including this one. Coaches decided that it would be best to have practice at 8am instead of 7am! Woohoo! After an ab circuit and a long wait for the fog, we headed out to row. This morning I was stroking a four with Elise from UCLA, Meredith from Columbia, and Lauren from Louisville. Sarah was in a pair with Sarah Gribbler from Michigan. 2k warm up, then 8k at different rates -18, 20, 22, 24 every 500 meters. 2k cool down.

It thunder stormed (of course) between practices, which made for another humid afternoon row. We took out 2 eights and a single. Sarah and I were in the Wintech; Sarah stroking and I was 2 seat. A 70 minute row; about 25 minutes was drills. Coach Steve’s main focus during the practice was for us to get our blades buried before we started the drive sequence. He explained it using different analogies and words, including “getting the bow side of the blade wet first”, “getting the paint covered”, and the familiar “the catch is part of the recovery”. When the boats were stopped he asked how many of us had heard the phrase “back it in” at least 200 times. Most girls raised their hands, and he told us he doesn’t say that phrase anymore because it is overused. “It’s like your parents telling you to be quiet; they say it so many times, you eventually tune it out”.

Tomorrow is more seat racing, so after a good dinner we settled down and relaxed the rest of the evening. Racing tomorrow will tell coaches a lot about everyone’s speed. Hopefully it goes well.

June 17, 2009- Sarah

This morning we started seat racing. We were divided into our race boats and rowed three time trial pieces of 1750 meters. The first 750 meters were at a 24 stroke rate, the next 500 meters were at a 26 stroke rate, and the last 500 meters were at a 28 stroke rate. I was in a straight four with girls from Wisconsin, Washington, and Harvard. The pieces were quick and fun and beside the minor crab we caught on the first one, they rowed pretty smoothly. I enjoyed the racing after doing steady state pieces for so long. After the row we came in and quickly started our thirty-minute circuit. I love that circuit because it is such a good workout! There are push-ups and jump squats and post pulls and lunges and then a run where you have to sprint. It reminds me of the days of preseason conditioning for basketball in high school.

Once we were done with our training for the morning the Oak Ridge Rowing Association Master Women’s program made a breakfast feast for all of us. There were pancakes and tons of fruit and bacon and cheesy grits (a Tennessee favorite) and quiche! It was very delicious. Everyone was excited about the massive amounts of food! After we were done eating we had a quick meeting explaining what was going to be happening in the next week. Four girls were chosen to move to Charlottesville, VA to practice in the quad with Kevin Sauer. Two were from UVA, one was from Clemson, and one was from Dartmouth. The quad is not exactly set yet, but these are the girls that will be training to make the boat right now. Others might be selected to go train there as well sometime next week if sweeping does not work out. They also said that they are going to start making some cuts by early next week-so I hope I’m not on the chopping block! Then we were told that selection for the sweep boats was going to be based off our time trials and how close our times are to the gold standard time of each boat. So the days we do time trials: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, will be very important in the process of selection for boats.

This afternoon we went out in two eights and a pair. I rowed bow seat in one of the eights with girls from Stanford, Michigan, Clemson, Purdue, Harvard, Princeton, and Wisconsin! Even though it was just a light, steady state row we were going really fast! It was so much fun to row in an eight at bow seat! It was my first time and I never thought I would like it, but I did! Kelsey rowed in a pair with a girl from Texas. She said it went well and it was a nice easy row. We were told we will probably be seat racing tomorrow as well so we are going to try to get to bed early so we do well. It’s been a great summer so far! The competition is phenomenal and the level we are raising our rowing to is just awesome. This is just such a good experience, whether I make a boat or not, I am happy to be rowing out here.

June 16, 2009-Kelsey

The fog this morning was horrible; when standing in the boathouse I couldn’t see the water only about 60 feet away. After our 20 minute warm-up run, we did a 30 minute ab circuit, hoping the fog would burn off by the time we were done. It still hadn’t burned off all the way, so coaches held a meeting and talked about what this week’s practices were going to be like. The first week was designed to get us used to each other, the boats, and the schedule, with mostly steady state rows. However this week we will start seat racing. They are going to make the first round of cuts by the end of this week. That made my stomach flip. I didn’t think they would start so soon. They also said they were going to select a group of scullers and head to Virginia for further training. We should know where we stand amongst the other girls by the end of this week too. Big changes are coming!

Apparently Anne is an Olympian! Kevin told us during the meeting today; she competed in the eight at the ’96 Olympics. She pulled a 6:46 2K, and she’s only 5’8’’ and weighs 145lbs! That’s incredible. She told us that it doesn’t matter how tall or short you are; if you really really want it, it’s possible. She did advise us, though, that if your “vertically challenged”, you will most likely have more success in sculling than sweeping.

Finally the fog was gone. Now half of the girls were to erg and the other half go on the water. I erged first; we did 3 x 20 minutes “steady state” with a 2 minute break in-between sets, SR 22. The first 20 minutes at a 2:07, second at a 2:06 and last set at 2:05. Although we do this workout all the time at GVSU, the splits were faster than my normal steady state so it felt more like a workout to me. On the water we did 6k, I was in a pair with Lauren from Louisville, and Sarah was in a 4- with Mary from Cal, Adrianne from Washington, and Laura from Harvard. We were at the boathouse from 7am-12pm! Today was supposed to be our “recovery day”, but we were all pretty tired after practice ended.

I’m trying not to take naps during the day because I haven’t been able to fall asleep quick enough at bedtime. It’s really hard.

The second practice was a swing row, and it was blazin’ hot out. We only did 8k; I was starboard in a pair with Elise from UCLA. She is 6’4’’ I think, and pulled the fastest 6k here. We matched up really well; we were cruising down the racecourse! I finally got the track of using the toe, and it felt really good to get a successful row in. It was so hot and humid I managed to get about 6 new blisters on my hands; it’s like spring break all over again.

Dinner awaited us at home; Joan made stuffed pork chops, baked potatoes, broccoli, and applesauce. I really like her southern cooking. She always has healthy dips and delicious foods for us to eat and snack on. After dinner we munched on some speed cookies and watched Marley & Me. I’m going to bed early tonight; can’t wait to get about 9 hours of solid sleep. Tomorrow will be a hard day with seat racing and dun dun dun…the circuit.

If you want to be a better rower: do steady state!!! At the training camp in Princeton (for the National Team) the rowers do 3 or 4×20 minutes, steady state (the exact workout we did today) every single day-sometimes twice a day. If you are better at endurance, (6K) this will help you. If you have lots of strength, (good 2k) this workout will help you. It seems silly and boring, but it is the secret to becoming faster! It helps build the foundation to your aerobic base. This workout and the reasoning behind it probably sounds familiar to those who are on the team now; Coach Bancheri tells us this all the time. Miles make champions! It’s true!

June 15, 2009 –Sarah

It’s Monday. I woke up this morning with a small churning in my stomach. Oh no we have a 6k erg test this afternoon. The coaches told us to do an extra easy run this morning so as not to tire ourselves out for the test. After the run we were sent out in our boats for an easy 10k steady state around an 18. I was in a pair with Jes, from Clemson. It happened to be one of the best pairs I have ever been in. We matched power easily, I was able to steer well, and it was pretty set-all good things. After we got off the water we came in and did an ab circuit and stretched.

The coaches put our names on the blackboard and beside it showed what time we were supposed to start our 6k test. There are only four working, good ergs here so we all had to go at different times. Theresa, Kelsey, Lindsey Welch (from Purdue), and myself all were in the first group to go. We were told, with much encouragement and in-depth instruction to negative split the piece. So I thought about my strategy for much of the day. We came home, ate a good breakfast, took a nap, and of course, watched Full House.

We arrived at the course 45 minutes before our scheduled time so we could warm up and stretch. We had to do our piece outside in the heat so that it would be fair for everyone, but there was a nice breeze and it was overcast out so it wasn’t too bad. We started our piece and the first 2k went by pretty fast, but it hurt, which isn’t usual for the first 2k. The next 2k was the hardest, my legs were tired, there was a pool of sweat under my erg from the heat, and the erg screen almost started getting darker and blurry as if I couldn’t read it. Then the last 2k I snapped out of it and had a new surge of energy. I was able to sprint pretty early the last thousand bringing my split down by .5. Kevin Sauer was cheering us on the last bit which helped a lot too, and then it was over. I finished close to my goal and Anne told me I had a great piece, so I was pleased with my performance. It wasn’t a P.R. but it was the best I could do. Kelsey was able to finish at the goal she wanted as well, so it was a good day for Grand Valley. After we were done we cooled down on the erg for a bit and then went for a 30-minute jog. We stretched and left satisfied with the day.

After the practice Theresa, Kelsey, and I decided to reward ourselves with pizza! We went to Big Ed’s Pizza and it was delicious. It was a cute little restaurant with a fun atmosphere. Cheese, sausage, and green peppers made for a great pizza and extremely full stomachs J . Then we decided to rent a movie at Walgreens from the “Red Box.” It sounds shady, but it is actually a really good deal-only a dollar per DVD per night. Kelsey’s mom sent her a care package with what most GVSU rowers refer to as “speed cookies.” Picture the most delicious cookies loaded with oatmeal, peanut butter, m and m’s, and chocolate chips, mmmmmm heaven. We ate some cookies when we got home and popped in the movie, He’s Just Not That into You, a classic chick flick for the evening. It was a great day. It’s so rewarding to finish a hard workout and know that you did the best you could. It also helps to eat delicious food afterwards and enjoy good company. I look forward to tomorrow; it looks like we might start SEAT RACING!

June 14, 2009- Kelsey

Sunday morning, we get to sleep in! We stayed up until 11:30, and woke up at 9. Sarah and Theresa went to a Catholic church with Joan at 10, but I stayed in bed for a long time, reading and thinking. It was nice to have some time alone. When they got home Joan made delicious French toast, sausage links and orange juice. After breakfast we lounged about and enjoyed our morning off. Some of Joan’s friends came over that Joan went to the Czech Republic with on vacation. We met them and they showed us pictures from a couple photo albums they made. It was cool to see where potentially we could go. Prague looks so beautiful!!! I wanted to make a boat even more as I drooled over the pictures.

Practice was at 5:30; a swing row for an hour. Sarah was 2 seat in a straight four, and I was stroking a pair with Lauren again. I was excited to sweep because I have been sculling a lot lately. As Lauren and I lowered the boat in the water I noticed it was starboard stroked. “Shoot! It’s starboard stroked” I said. “Aren’t you a starboard?” Laura asked. “No, I thought you were!” I replied. We were both ports! Coach Kakela told me I could try it if I wanted to, so I went for it. I rowed starboard in the fall of my novice year, so at least I had some experience. My first stroke I almost flipped the boat. What have I gotten myself into? After rowing 2k however, starboard began to feel better, and I was no longer feathering with both hands. Anne coached us from her launch, and had us concentrate on getting our legs down and then swinging our bodies. She explained that if we press our legs down and swing our bodies all at once, we get a slightly vertical drive or a sort of curved drive. However, if we press our legs and then swing our bodies (still overlapping the muscle groups), we get a horizontal drive and it’s more efficient. As Laura and I began concentrating on this, suddenly we heard laughing. We looked up to Anne with the biggest smile on her face, happy as a clam in her launch. I thought she was laughing at me; perhaps I had a silly expression on my face from concentrating so hard. She pulled up next to us and told us we were rowing exactly the way she wanted us to, and we had fixed the problem. What a successful practice. After we put our boat away coach told me “You’re a natural starboard, Kelsey!” It was pretty cool to be able to switch like that, but then I got to thinking, I’ve been rowing on the wrong side this whole time! Bummer.

At this camp it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with the level of intensity and the level of expectations from the coaches and your teammates. There is so much talent here, which is awesome, but it’s also intimidating. Girls here pull 6:__ 2k’s and are 6’2’’. My first week here I was really quiet because I was scared of how I would do compared to others. My ultimate goal is to make a boat and race in the Czech Republic. Now that’s a pretty big goal. I realized that every day I had to show the coaches and my teammates that I am a hard worker. That’s all I can offer. I have to take baby steps, and make small improvements every time I go on the water. I can’t compare myself to other girls here; because I’ll never get anywhere myself (focus in your own boat). I have to have a good attitude, too. Attitude is a huge factor in the success or failure in rowing. If I am not ready for the U23 Team now, maybe I will be in a couple of years. If I get cut, I want the coaches to remember me as someone who worked hard and improved during the camp. Now that I am getting more comfortable with my new schedule and surroundings, I am more relaxed and even making some new friends.

My advice to whoever wants to be a better rower: get out of your comfort zone. Whether that means rowing a single, a pair, a different side, doing difficult drills, or rowing with someone who is better than you. Whatever it is, do it. I guarantee it will be scary and you won’t like it at first, but it will pay off and believe me, you will be glad you did it.

June 13, 2009 – Kelsey

Our coaches told us we were going to practice today from 7am-1pm, with an hour break. We packed a lunch and headed out the door, ready for the long day ahead of us. On the water we did 4×1000 meter pieces, with stroke rates varying from 20 to 26. Sarah was in a 4- and I was in a 2x.

After our break I was in the double again, with Lauren from Louisville. I found out she had only been rowing for 2 years too, so we were in the same boat-literally! We did a technical steady-state row, and I could feel my skin burning in the sun. Lauren and I improved a lot from the morning, but by the end of practice we were ready to be done and out of the sun. Sarah was in an eight again where Coach Terhaar was able to evaluate and coach a great deal. Tom told Sarah that she was improving and rowing rather well. We have this afternoon off, and Sunday morning off! Woohoo! Our coaches told us we are doing a 6k test Monday night, and a 30 minute test Wednesday. I’m a little worried; I haven’t done a 6k in a while. However, our training prior to this camp included 2 2x6k’s, so hopefully that will help us out.

For those of you who row/have rowed for GV, this camp is similar to spring break, but harder; with circuits, erging, and 6k, 30 minute, 10 stroke, and 1 minute testing. I have lots of blisters and sunburn, and I sleep in-between practices. We don’t get to go to the beach though, sadly. However, we soak our hands in Epsom salt, so that’s kind of like swimming in the ocean, right?

Tonight pretty much our whole team is going to the movies! We’re either seeing “UP” or “The Hangover”, I’m pumped because we haven’t been able to do anything fun this week, besides eating birthday cake and doing puzzles. When we get home from the movies Joan is cooking for us; she’s making sweet and sour meatballs. It’s going to be a good night! Plus, Happy Feet is on T.V.-do you see what we have to look forward to here…

June 12, 2009 – Sarah

Today we were told to “bring our guns loaded,” which translates to: erg test. We were tested on our maximum raw power for the rowing motion with a 10 stroke erg piece right in the morning after our 20 minute run. We were told to take ten strokes at whatever stroke rate we wanted to get the highest amount of watts possible. Five girls went at a time, starting in alphabetical order-which meant I had to go last. It was really neat to see everyone pulling so hard on the erg.

Once we were done with the erg test we went out on the water for a long row. I was in the quad again at three seat. We got a lot of individual attention from Coach Sauer on our sculling technique because we were the only boat out with him. He said I was becoming more consistent and it was coming along. Kelsey was in the double with a girl from Columbia and she was coached by Anne. “Anne said I had good technique but I need to be more aggressive. She said I row like my personality-quiet.”-Kelsey. Little does Anne know, Kelsey is not really quiet at all!

Once we got off the water we did another 30-minute circuit, but this time we got to listen to music. Grace, a girl from Stanford, brought her computer and set it up outside. The song, “Call On Me,” came on and Kelsey and I were really pumped! It made the workout go by much faster. During the circuit Coach Kakela told all the girls to watch Kelsey do jump squats because she had the best technique Anne had seen out of all the girls. It was a good thing we did all those jump squats in the fall, ha!

We returned to practice in the afternoon where I was put in an eight with girls from Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, and Washington. It was really neat being from a club team and rowing with all these girls with NCAA experience. Tom Terhaar went out with us and coached us a lot on our finishes, emphasizing the circle around the turn. He also made it really easy to understand the catch by describing it as just stepping on the foot boards. We did a lot of outside hand only by six’s and wide grip rowing by all eight. We even practiced a start and it felt as if we were flying- so fast! It was a great practice. Kelsey was in the double again with the same girl as in the morning where she worked on her sculling technique.

June 11, 2009 – Sarah

Once again we started our morning nice and early at 6:17 am with practice beginning with a 20 minute run at 7 am. I wasn’t that tired though, considering I went to bed around 9 pm-way earlier than I have ever gone to bed throughout my whole college career! After the “warm-up” run we learned a few new dynamic stretches, which felt great considering the intense workout we had done the day before. We were then split up into two eights and a quad. Kelsey and I were in a port stroked eight at 4 and 3 seat with girls from schools as high esteemed as Harvard, Michigan, and Stanford. It started out a little shaky with all the different techniques of each school trying to mesh together, but once we did a few placement-type stationary drills it became much smoother. We did about 12k steady state around 18-20 strokes per minute-my heart rate reaching as high as 170 bpm. It was really nice to get back into an eight after rowing in small boats all week and the two weeks leading up to camp.

Once we docked, we cleaned the boats off and went back to the boathouse for an abdominal circuit. We had partners and used Swiss balls trading off on the different exercises. We did everything from planks to leg raises and bicycles. It was a great workout which even incorporated some stretches so it wasn’t too hard on our bodies.

During our ever exciting hours between practices we took a nap and watched Full House and Sabrina on T.V. We were pretty sore so we just lugged around all day until afternoon practice.

As we pulled in to the parking lot of the boathouse for our second practice of the day we saw Tom Terhaar getting something out of his car. He was here-it was time for judgment. Once everyone got there and we found out our lineups we were told that Tom was going to be driving the launch around with Anne. He was going to help in the evaluation process of our rowing technique and whether we would be good for sweep rowing or sculling.

I was in a pair with Laura. She was from Harvard University. It was only my second time sweeping at this camp and I had to row in a pair with steering in the foot. That was a challenge because the slightest movement from your foot can turn the boat a very large amount one way or the other. So our first lap down the course was somewhat like a ski slalom. We were left and right and left and right and hitting buoys a good amount. But the next lap I kind of got the hang of it and it went much better. I was able to get a good deal of coaching from Steve Parry, which I believe helped me a lot. We rowed 12k and then came in and stretched. Tom Terhaar is going to be evaluating tomorrow as well.

June 10, 2009 – Kelsey

Practice was from 7am-11am today. We ran, stretched, and I stroked a pair with Mary, from Cal. It went really well, we figured Cal and GVSU’s rowing styles were very similar. After 12k, we docked and I transferred to bow in the quad. Sarah stayed in the quad for both sessions. I am improving in my sculling; Kevin Sauer is an excellent coach. After being on the water for 3 hours, we did a 30 minute circuit. We’ll do these circuits every other day. The circuit kicked my butt. I want to keep doing these circuits back at school; they will whip you into shape in no time. When the three of us got home, all we wanted to do was lay on the floor. I can’t imagine the shape I will be in after doing this camp.

Tom Terhaar is coming tomorrow to observe our practices for a few days. He is the National Team Women’s Coach, training girls in Princeton. Tom coming means we will have a 1 minute and 30 minute test coming up this weekend. I hope my training will pay off.

It was thunder storming in the afternoon so we couldn’t row, but that didn’t stop us from working out. They divided us into ports and starboards, and half of us ran outside for 30 minutes and the other half erged for 30 minutes. The erg workout was 5’@20, 4’@21, 3’@22, 2’@23, 1’@24, and then back to 5’@20….You started at 18’’over 2k PR and every rate change you took off 2 seconds. So I started at a 2:05 and ended at a 1:57.

p.s. Sarah and I feel like kids because we go to bed early every night and take naps during the day.

June 9, 2009 – Kelsey

The 20 minute run to start off practice made me sweat through my shirt, it is so humid today. Sarah and I were in a pair today, and now Sarah had to get the hang of using the toe. We were with Coach Steve, and two other pairs. His goal for today was just to get us used to being in pairs and steering, and getting used to the other girl in the boat. Sarah and I had a decent row since we practiced in pairs every day before coming to camp. It is crucial in this camp to be able to row with different girls; we are basically taking 20 different rowing styles and meshing them all together.

Have I mentioned we are rowing brand spankin’ new shells and oars? Wintech shells and Croker oars. Almost all of the girls here are used to using new equipment, but Sarah and I were pretty wide-eyed when they showed us what we were going to be training in.

After practice, and about a gallon’s worth of sweating later, we learned a core workout. I hadn’t seen most of the exercises before, and a lot of them incorporated stretching into them. I would like to use them next season at GVSU, I think they could help our team. One stretch we learned was called
“Salutation to the Sun”, now one of my favorite stretches.

After breakfast we all took a nap, I have a feeling I am going to be sleeping a lot here. We have a good chunk of time in between practices; luckily we don’t have to spend it commuting to and from practice. Sarah, Theresa, and I are only 5 minutes away from the boathouse, while other girls are 45 minutes, so we definitely lucked out.

Our second practice I was bow in a quad. I am bow because here, I am one of the shortest girls. I liked making the calls and steering, although I need to be louder. Sarah was 3 seat in the same quad as I was. “I thought it was a lot of fun” –Sarah Zelenka

June 8, 2009 – Kelsey

Happy Birthday Sarah! What a way to spend a birthday-in a new house, new teammates in a new city! After breakfast our host Joan took us on a tour of Oak Ridge, which is now probably one of my favorite cities. Oak Ridge, or “the Secret City” was the city they built the atomic bomb for Hiroshima in 1940. Citizens working on ‘The Manhattan Project’ weren’t allowed to speak about their jobs. The city wasn’t even on a map during the time of construction, hence the name secret city. Every year Oak Ridge has a Secret City Festival (June 15-16), which includes a re-enactment of a battle in WWII, performances by ‘The Oak Ridge Boys’, arts and crafts vendors, antique dealers, a petting zoo, and pony rides. It’s free, and I plan on going. Joan bought us ice cream and showed us around town. There is a giant community pool, I think about the size of a football field, and every Wednesday and Saturday morning there is a Farmer’s Market in town, something I will definitely be at. We drove past the hotel/restaurants we stayed at during SIRAs and ACRAs. It was weird to be here without GVSU’s team.

At 3pm, we rode our bikes along the 3.4 mile path to the Melton Lake Rowing Center. Our coaches this summer are sweeping coach Steve Perry (the lightweight men’s coach at Dartmouth), sculling coach Kevin Sauer (Virginia’s head coach), and their assistant coach Anne Kakela. They told us they weren’t only looking for girls for this U23 team, but were looking for potential for the senior team and the 2012 Olympics. Apparently the U.S. wants to win more medals in the Olympics, so all the U.S. teams (junior, U23, senior) are going to focus more on smaller boats (1x, 2x, 2-) and getting more comfortable in smaller boats.

Not all the girls at practice were there, 5 more are supposed to come in the next couple of weeks, and once we get to Princeton two more will join. So even if you are in the 8 when you leave for Princeton, you could still get seat raced out of the boat. Basically you aren’t safe until you are on the plane to Czech Republic. There are 29 girls total, 3 coxswains, and only about 20 will get boated

Here is the schedule for the summer:
June 8: camp starts in Oak Ridge, TN
July 3: group of athletes move to Princeton to race U23 Trials. Trials are held in Mercer Lake, NJ from July 6-10.
July 11: rest of camp moves to Princeton to train alongside senior team.
July 18: team leaves for Worlds
July 23-26 FISA U23 World Championships held in Racice, Czech Republic

We will have practice at 7am and 4pm. The morning will be like two workouts into one practice, sometimes lasting 4 hours! A really hard morning could consist of an erg test (2x6k or 30 minute test), followed by seat racing, followed by a 30 minute circuit. The circuits are designed to keep your heart rate high for a full half hour. We’ll do sprints or hill runs, pushups, squats, jumpies, etc. I’m assuming it is going to be similar to the T3 workout varsity did during winter training. All mornings will start with a 20 minute warm-up run and 10 minute stretch while the coaches talk about what the workout will be. Then the afternoon practice will have a core workout everyday and other rowing. I have a feeling we are going to be exhausted every day.

Then they divided us up into groups, we took two 4x, three 2-, one 2x, and one single. I was bow in the 2x with Jess, she stroked Clemson’s 8. I have only been in a single about 5 times, and didn’t know how to use the toe (to steer), so I was nervous. Those toes are tricky! I would overcompensate and made us swerve in and out of the lanes the first lap, but by the end of practice I got the hang of steering, and liked using them. It was only the first practice and I already did things I have never done before.

Later that night we went grocery shopping and stocked up on fruits and veggies and bread. When we came home Joan had White chili and broccoli cornbread all ready for us to eat, it was delicious. Sarah, Therese, Joan and I shared dinner together and talked for a while. Then we finished off the day by making/eating Sarah’s birthday cake, chocolate with chocolate frosting.

June 7, 2009 – Kelsey

We started our 11 hour journey at 5:30am with my parents driving and Sarah and I in the back. Suddenly, we were there! I slept the entire time. We stopped at Cumberland Falls to take a ¾ mile hike down to “The Niagara of the South”. I had gone there when I was younger and remembered parts of it. From the Falls we only had about an hour to go. We arrived at our host’s house, Joan Lane, at 6pm. She is a sweet lady, very independent and she rows! After unloading the car we went to Joan’s son’s house, there were about 14 people there. Every Sunday her family gets together for a barbeque. We had hamburgers/brats, loaded baked beans, corn on the cob, and fruit salad, it was delicious. It’s a big southern happy family; I was glad to meet them all.

We went to bed early because we were tired, despite sleeping all day. Tomorrow is our first practice, feeling really nervous and excited at the same time.

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