Women's Rowing Winter Training Blog

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The Holy Cross rowing teams spent Jan. 13-19, 2010, in Cocoa Beach, Fla., to start their winter training sessions. During the week, members of the women's rowing team blogged about their experiences on GoHolyCross.com. This last report comes from senior captain Abigail Hammond (Holliston, Mass.) from the airport as the team prepares to return to Holy Cross. The previous reports came from sophomore Eliza Gettel (Merrimack, N.H.), freshman Catherine Roy (Holliston, Mass.), sophomore Kate Broderick (West Newbury, Mass.), junior Odet Douglass (St. Simons Island, Ga.), sophomore Mollie Sydlowski (Amesbury, Mass.) and senior captain Mara Piltin (Medford, N.J.).

Jan. 19, 2010 by Abigail Hammond

We have left Cocoa Beach and are currently sitting in the Orlando International Airport waiting for our departures back to Worcester. Looking back on the week, we accomplished a lot. Our overall conditioning has improved with the help of our newly acquired jump roping skills, and our rowing technique is well on its way to helping us move through the water faster. Our goal from the first day of the fall season continues to be May 9th at ECACs. We have set this date to reach our peak performance. There is a lot more work to be done and the winter erg season will present its challenges, but we are a strong team with strong bonds and are ready for the long haul ahead. In a little over a month we will return to Cocoa Beach, so stay tuned and follow us!

Jan. 18, 2010 by Eliza Gettel

Day 5, our last day of rowing, started early at 6:30 a.m. The sun had not yet risen as we drove to the launch site. Without the sun shining, the morning was a bit chilly, but we quickly warmed up with our typical jump roping and squat warm-up. Due to injuries, we were a couple rowers short of our normal two eight lineup, so we rowed an eight, a four, and a pair. On the water, we continued to work on technique, particularly lengthening our stroke. After practice, we returned to the hotel where KB was kind enough to share the edible fruit arrangement that her mother sent (thanks KB's mom!).

This afternoon, before heading to the launch site, we gathered for a team photo. Back by the Banana River we again launched an eight, four, and pair for our last winter trip practice. Along with three fellow sophomores, I was so lucky as to row in the four, a personal first. A four is smaller than an eight and therefore harder to set up so it requires lots of concentration to get the boat moving evenly on keel.

Later off the water, we derigged and scrubbed the boats before loading them on the trailer. Now that everything is tied down and secure both teams are organized to head back to Mt. St. James and ready to begin the spring semester tanner than most of our classmates. Personally, I will miss the sun of Cocoa Beach while erging in the Hart Center's hallway, but the promise of returning to this agreeable locale in two months will sustain me. Stay tuned for another post tomorrow as we travel back to the northeast!

Jan. 17, 2010 by Catherine Roy

This morning's row began at a cloudy, muggy and somewhat rainy 7:00 a.m. We went through our usual routine of bringing down oars, putting the launches in the water, stretching and jumping rope (some of us struggling more than others). Once we got on the water we really tried to focus on transferring what we learned about balancing up the boat rowing on the square to rowing on the feather. Even though rowing on the square is probably one of a rower's least favorite things to do, we really started to see its benefits. We are working towards having blade work and balance become second nature so that we can shift our focus onto our power and rhythm. Throughout the workout, Patrick and Lindsay reiterated the importance of swinging our hands out over our knees before we begin our slide on the recovery. Having a long, early swing allows us to keep our body position and not over reach at the catch and throw off the boat's set. As our practices have continued throughout the week, each individual rower has started to make great improvements in their technique, which in return has caused the boat as a whole to come together and make great improvements that will lead us to a successful spring season!

This afternoon, the wind was gusting up to 30 mph; so therefore, rowing was not really an option. Instead the captains and coaches came up with a creative land workout. We first started by running up and walking down seven flights of stairs seven times. We then did an abs circuit, which consisted of plank, leg holds, bicycles, rower sit-ups, leg holds with circles and crunches. We then went to the beach to find out what was in store for us. Once there, we split up into two teams, sophomores vs. juniors, seniors and freshman (clearly the sophomores dominate our team). We started out by running down the beach into the ocean and back out to tag our next teammate in line, we continued to do this until Patrick told us to stop. When he finally told us to stop, we all hoped that we might be done, however, he had more for us to do. He then made the teams go into the ocean and divide into two. We had to stand diagonally across from one another a good distance apart. One half of the team was pretty much waste deep in water while the other half was ankle deep. We each then had to run diagonally across to our teammates waiting on the other side. I think most of the team enjoyed this workout; it was a nice break from all the rowing we have been doing. I also think Patrick and Lindsay enjoyed watching us trip over ourselves as well as the waves and take many face plants into the ocean.

As a freshman, this is my first trip to Cocoa Beach and it has been an experience. The workouts are much different than what I was used to in high school and now I can finally tell Patrick that the workouts are harder than what I did at CRI!

Jan. 16, 2010 by Kate Broderick

We started day three of winter training this morning at 7:00am. It was overcast, but still very warm as we began our first session of the day. During the morning workout we focused intensely on perfecting our technique and working to keep the boat completely set. For most of the morning we rowed with our blades square (perpendicular to the water), forcing us to concentrate on keeping the boat as balanced as possible. Although practice was difficult, it was definitely nice to be rowing on the perfectly flat water in the warm weather! Together we worked through frustration and tiredness and came off the water having made a lot of progress. After practice we returned to our hotel for brunch, the hot tub and some necessary rest.

In the afternoon we worked on many of the same aspects that we had worked on in the morning, continuing to focus on keeping the boat balanced. Again, we set our tiredness aside and focused completely on our technique. After practice we reviewed video tape from our previous rowing sessions and were able to look at ourselves from a different perspective, paying close attention to our individual strengths and weaknesses. It's amazing to see the progress we've made just in the short time we've been here! With all the work that we are doing, I'm excited for the upcoming spring season.

Stay tuned for further updates from Cocoa Beach!

Jan. 15, 2010 by Odet Douglass

So "Day 2" of winter training got started around 6:45 this morning. The temperature was a little chilly outside when we woke up, but it quickly warmed up by the time we got on the water.  The morning session consisted of a few drills and a couple distance pieces at moderate pressure in and throughout the canals of the Indian and Banana Rivers. It's not the easiest thing waking up so early during my last week of break, but I can say that rowing during sunrise on absolutely flat water (in Florida!) is an amazing and gorgeous experience; not to mention all the dolphins and wildlife that we spotted throughout the row as well! After three hours on the water and extremely sore from yesterday's workout, we all went back to the hotel for a much needed rest and to eat brunch, go to the hot tub, etc. before our  afternoon session began.

The water this afternoon wasn't as smooth and flat as the morning, but the weather was still warm and the sun was shining for the most part. The afternoon row was similar to this morning's row, but not as long. We continued to work on the mechanics of rowing and not so much on making the boat go fast. It's the little things that we are trying to perfect with our stroke now so that when the time comes to really add pressure, we will be very efficient and fast moving through the water. Already after just two days of practice I can see the tremendous progress we are all making together and I'm so excited for the spring season to come so we can see how our hard work has paid off!

This is my fourth trip to Cocoa Beach, Fla. for training and each time is a unique experience that I've more than enjoyed so I have no doubt that this trip will be any different. I'm looking forward to the next couple of days of sunshine and warmth on the water before returning to the frigid cold in the north, but until then goodnight from Cocoa and continue to check us out tomorrow and the days to follow!

Jan. 14, 2010 by Mollie Sydlowski

Today was "Day 1" of our Winter Training week, and we started off with intensity. After a few months of not being on the water, this morning's row was much anticipated. We were up bright and early, and started off the workout with a jump roping warm up (something that was new to more than a few of us). Finally getting back on the water was extremely rewarding, after weeks of erging and weight room training. As much as indoor workouts are needed and will help us get to where we want to be in our training, there is nothing like walking your boat into the water, jumping in, and rowing through the nestled canals of Cocoa Beach, Fla.

After multiple pieces, we began to work out some of the kinks and feel more comfortable. After the morning workout ended, we returned to our hotel and replenished our bodies with plenty of Gatorade, water, lunch and rest. Soon after, we headed back down to the boats and began our second workout of the day. With more pieces and drills, each stroke felt a little bit better. I feel as though "Be Patient" is our motto, for we all are anxious and motivated to have everything come together quickly. Our determination and drive helps us to keep sight of our nearing spring season. After our second workout, we ran back to our hotel. Lasting just over four miles, this run was filled with sore legs, lots of pavement and also a beautiful view. Although tiring, the run back was fairly flat and requested endurance. Our team has lucked out so far with the weather, for it was absolutely gorgeous today from this morning's workout until the end of our run. It looks as though we have escaped the frigid cold and winds of Worcester!

This is my second trip to Cocoa Beach, and I am starting to feel a connection to the town. I rowed on the women's novice team as a freshman last year, and flew to Cocoa Beach for only the spring break trip. Now a sophomore, with this trip I am remembering what type of a rower I was last year, what I have improved upon and where I want to be when our team returns at the end of February. 

Jan. 13, 2010 by Mara Piltin

With the second semester and racing in sight, we are heading to Cocoa Beach, Florida to begin the bulk of our training season. Until this point, we have dedicated our practice time to training in small boats and working indoors, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to get back on the water for a week. Our time in Florida during January is usually spent perfecting our technique and committing to memory the details of every stroke that will be so important for a productive spring training. The top 18 rowers from both the men's and women's teams are headed to the Orlando airport from their homes all over the country. Once in Cocoa, we will meet our trailer, packed full of eights, fours and some doubles to be rigged and set-up for early practice tomorrow morning. This being my seventh, and second to last rowing trip to Cocoa Beach, I anticipate a great one. We are equipped with strong rowers and committed athletes this year and I am excited to see what we can accomplish both this week and in racing. As a senior heading to medical school, this rowing trip serves as an escape; a means to release some tension, focus on rowing, and spend time with my teammates before the craziness of the semester begins. As for the conditions, Florida has been experiencing some extremely cold weather this past week, putting a damper on our attempt to escape the bitter cold of Worcester. However, it has been predicted to warm up to normal temperatures soon, giving us as rowers a little hope. My flight from Philadelphia is beginning its descent, but keep up with us this week to see how the Holy Cross winter rowing trip plays out.