First on-water rowing experience

I went along to Trent Rowing Club today to have a go at rowing on the water. I’ve been using the ergo (rowing machine) for a good few years now, though not consistently. I’ve entered a few competitions, 5 in all i think, and managed to come 11th in the 30-34 Mens Heavyweight category at the 2005 BIRC (British Indoor Rowing Competition) around 18 months ago. So, I thought I’d give the real thing a try.

Since I only learned to swim around 5 years ago I’m not very confident in the water, can’t even do backstroke. I can do breast stroke and a sort of front crawl, but I don’t like putting my face in the water. I’ve had 30 years worth of fearing the water and it’ll take time to overcome that. So,I was a tad nervous when pushed out onto the river Trent for the first time in what I thought at the time was a fairly unstable boat. It did have a long length of rope tied to the front so I could be pulled back to shore in the event I started to disappear downstream!

Before I got pushed out i was taught how to put the blade of the oar into the water, how to grip the handle of the oar, how to cross my arms over, amongst many other things. After a little while doing that I was pushed out, so it’s not like i got in and off I went!!

I started off learning the easy position, which is leg straight, handles into the stomach/ribs and the blades level. This made the boat very stable. I Then tried a few strokes with just one arm, not using the legs at all. Then gradually building up to the point where I was using my legs with both oars. But, I was told, the size of the boat was hampering me. Basically, I didn’t have enough room to get the blades out of the water at the end of the drive and recover ready for the next drive. So, I couldn’t get any rhythm going. But I did managed to put 2 half reasonable strokes together and it felt really good to move along the water smoothly (ish!!).

Having only used the ergo before, all I had to worry about was the timing of the stroke, I never had to worry about balance. It was a lot to take on board in a short period of time, but i did reasonably well and I’ll definitely go back. Apparently my technique (on the ergo) is pretty good, but I was pausing at the end of each drive just before the recovery (sliding forwards). I always did that so I could get the 2:1 ratio of recovery to drive. But I need to actually slide forward slowly rather than just pause at the end of the drive.

So, a good effort to start with, and I am sure I will improve with time.

Assuming nothing comes up in the meantime, I will go back next week for another session.

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