Will Loftus Ely Performance Rowing Camp

It gave me great relief when I was told of my selection on to the Ely Performance Sculling Camp of August 2012. This was because I had been training hard for months beforehand in order to lower my 2000 metre erg time and so I felt as if all that hard work I had put in before hand paid off.

The course was run by the Eastern Section of British Rowing ( Rowing’s officiating body), It was however open to applicants from all over the UK, indeed there were some who had travelled all the way from Wales.

After being selected, the 26 successful athletes made there way to The Isle of Ely Rowing Club on the morning of the 21st August and after rigging the boats and checking all our equipment was ship shape, eagerly yet slightly apprehensively awaited the first Briefing at 0900 o’clock sharp. Here we were introduced to an array of professional rowing coaches from British Rowing as well as those fresh from the Team GB Olympic coaching staff. As they explained how the week would work in regards to coaching, I became slightly daunted as I realised that a number of my peers were international rowers who had competed for Wales and even Team GB and so I was beginning to worry whether I would be out of my depth.

We were told that each of the four days of the camp would consist of three, one and a half hour outings. The first of which would be a 2km time trail up the Queen Adelaide straight. The purpose of this was to record a time so that the group of 26 scullers could be split into four groups of six or seven who were all of roughly the same ability, and so make coaching slightly easier, as well as creating a healthy and good natured rivalry in each group as to who would be the quickest. As soon as we found out the results of the time trail, we were assigned into our groups and we headed back out on to to the water again with our designated coaches. For the next three and a half days our ability in a single scull would be challenged to the limit as our coaches set us a number of bewildering exercises. A worryingly high number of these involved taking our hands of our blade handles completely and placing them on top of our head, an exercise designed to improve the balance and stability of the boat. Consequently, in these sessions we had a number of scullers who not only improved the sculling technique, but their swimming technique also, although luckily I was not one of these.

One of the most interesting and certainly most beneficial parts of the camp was that we were shown extensive individual video analysis of our technique. I found this to be an excellent way for improvement as it meant I could watch playback of my self so I could see first hand the mistakes I was making, instead of just being told about them by the coach. This made me appreciate what I specifically had to work on and so I think it made a large contribution to any improvements that I happened to make.

After doing a Time Trial when we first arrived , then being coached all week to try and make us go faster, on the very last session of the Camp on Friday afternoon we were required to go out and do the same time trial again, so that our coaches could evaluate our performance through out the week. The general thinking amongst our group was that we would all eclipse our previous times as we all felt we had improved some what. However thanks to an extremely strong head wind blowing up the Queen Adelaide Straight it meant this would be a very tall order. In the end all of our times were slightly faster than before which brought about a real sense of satisfaction, and best of all for me I proved to myself that I could certainly be competitive with the other scullers and so I wasn’t out of my depth at all.

By the end of the week I had learnt many new and useful exercises which I hope to try and perfect, as well as more importantly I will try to transfer them to our coaching sessions at Beccles and so let everyone benefit from the course and can learn these new exercise and thus keep their training interesting as they are always trying out new ways to try and improve and go faster. Lastly my thanks go to the Beccles Rowing Club Committee for their extremely generous donation of £50 towards to costs of the camp.

Note; Will is too modest to reveal that he achieved not only the fastest time in the initial trial but also in the final test. Very well done and congratulations Robin

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