….was more than I could possibly ever imagine.
After arriving and taking up pretty much every space in my room, (I think I might have won the “most luggage” award!!) I had a quiet evening. Well I was meant to join the rest of the group at the pub, but when I arrived there were no parking spaces, so I hoped for the best and drove back to camp, not entirely sure where I was heading.
It was an early start on Saturday ready for registration, and introductions. Then the stuff we were all there for started. We headed off to the London Regatta Centre where we started re-rigging boats, and introducing new rowers to the most important tool a rower can possess, a rigger jigger.
There were a lot of boats to rig and people to boat. More people turned up than expected,which is fantastic, as the more people reached, the better for the sport, although I think it was a logistical nightmare for those running it.
The hard work then started, we were assigned a coach from a different club, who may or may not have coached the specific category they were assigned. It was great to get a set of new eyes on my technique, and introduced to new drills to help improve my stroke. I think it was also good for the coaches to get exposure to different rowers. I think everyone learnt something.
We were all grateful for the lunch break as it was a scorching day, not ideal temperature for hard work outdoors, but gave good water conditions. During lunch we met with the Paralympic rowers, which was wonderful, and an honour to be in conversation with them.
With the sun still beaming down on us we had to line up and do a 1000 m time trial, which was hard work, but good training, both physically and mentally, making sure you keep going when there’s no opposition behind you.
After exhausting ourselves, we returned back to camp for a couple of seminars, both of which were very valuable and educational.
That evening we had dinner together and Andy Houghton came and talked about what it was like being on the GB team, which was interesting and very encouraging. I had the chance to speak to Andy, who gave me some good advice.
On Sunday morning, we were split into three groups. Thankfully this meant I got a bit of a lie in. First on the schedule was strength and conditioning training. This was interesting, and helpful, and gave me some insight into what weight training etc…I should be doing.
We then headed back out onto the water for some productive coaching, with a different coach again, which was fantastic, as they explained things in different ways, which helped my technique massively. Next up was a 500m side by side sprint, which was good fun, especially when I won, although attempting to decapitate a canoeist wasn’t my finest moment!!
That pretty much was the end of the weekend, which saw people exchanging contact details, discussing Facebook groups to track when and where people would be racing. I thought this was fantastic, and such a large part of the ethos of the camp.
A few of us stayed on till Monday and watched the victory parade, we had front row seats, and it was wonderful to see all of the competitors, and see the reaction they got. Fantastic atmosphere and experience.
I learnt so much at the camp, which has already improved my rowing, thank you to those who organised it, and everyone else who came and made the weekend possible.
Most people seem to believe rowers are insane for the conditions in which we train. My response is that I saw the “insanity line” and well and truly crossed it!! Actually most people would say that about many of my life choices, but this blog is going to focus on my attempt to rise through the ranks of the sport and become an -Olympic rower.
There are a few differences to my story though, which make it a bit more unusual, I am unable to walk and have problems with my trunk control thanks to a few complicated medical conditions. This means that I am classified as an “arms and shoulders” (AS for short) rower, which means, as name suggests, I row only using my arms and shoulders. You can find out more about ;Adaptive Rowing ;on the British Rowing Website.
I’m also unable to digest food properly and have to be fed through a central line into my heart which pumps a special aseptically prepared liquid into my veins overnight.
Given non adaptive rowers use their legs for the majority of their power, trying to shift basically the same boat, using your arms and shoulders only, certainly hasn’t made me the envy of my club members, who mostly think I’m mad for doing it, as they don’t much fancy it. The mischievous side of me thinks they all should try it, just to see what it’s like!!
For me it’s a dream come true. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the only way I’ve been able to take part in the sport I fell in love with back in 2004. The story of why I’m now an adaptive rower is a post for another time, but this has been the only way to facilitate the thing I’ve missed more than walking or eating normally. See, told you I had crossed the insanity line.
I have already started on the road to my ultimate aim, and I’ll bring you up to speed with that in another post as well.
This was just a brief, hello and to hopefully give you a taste of what’s to come if you stick with me. The exciting news is that I’ve been given tickets to the Paralympic rowing on Friday, which I’m very much looking forward to seeing, it’ll give me a taste of what’s to come and it’ll be an amazing experience to see those I aspire to be like, racing.