Let’s start first explaining what is connection to the water. Connection to the water is traction. It means that you have the ability to hold to something solid and push the boat away. Yes this is a very hard thing to do in rowing and it is a key factor to go fast.
When I have the chance to coach for a short time a rower I focus all my energy on helping him to connect better to the water and to use better his body when connected to push the boat further away. The reason I do that is because I know that I cannot change the fitness of a rower in few hours but i can help him connect better to the water and to use better his body.
Ok let’s go back to the original theme of this blog topic:
“The real test of Rowing connection to the water”
Ok how Can we know if our rowers are connected to the water and I don’t have a Rowperfect3 to check the data and use the feedback of the computer to solve this problem?
First let’s review what happens when you are connected to the water so you will understand the consequences of not being connected to the water and the effects of that on your fitness or the fitness of your rowers and the solutions used to keep up the fitness not deteriorating too much.
When you are connected to the water you can produce leverage and you can push the boat away, accelerate the boat, increase the speed of the boat every drive. When you are connected to the water you can at low rates produce a lot of work every stroke so you can increase your heart rate and your lactate levels. Yes people who are well connected to the water can row at treshold levels at 20 and 22 strokes a minute. Rowers really connected to the water can have really high levels of lactate above 6 at 24 strokes a minute.
So what happens when you are not connected to the water and you train at low rates?
The rower that is not connected to the water training at low rates will lose fitness. Why? Because he is not levering to anything heavy so he cannot produce enough work at low rates to stress his body. What is the solution to that? So if your training program is based on lots of low rate training and your rowers are not well connected they will lose fitness.
There are 2 solutions to don’t lose fitness if you train at low rates:
a) Teach the rower to connect to the water by rowing with a rower who connects to the water and also using the Rowperfect3 with the feature of the joules x stroke.
b) Keep doing what you do and use the Stationary erg to keep the fitness of your rower. The problem with that is that your crew will have trouble to be fast out of the start, to be fast on small boats and to reach their full potential.
Another way to see how connected they are is to look at their hands or check how fast they are out of a start. The more connected rowers will have more extra skin on their hands. That is the effect of extra load and more friction on their hands. To be fast out of a start you need to move relax, quick and connected to the water to increase the speed of the boat by holding into water and pushing the boat away.
Ok the test to see if you are connected to the water or your team is:
This test has 4 steps:
1) Do the regular training you do for few weeks using the stationary rowing machine as you normally do.
2) Do a test on the stationary rowing machine of 1 x 30 minutes max at 22 + 1 x10 minutes at 26 + 1 x 500 max with 5 minutes rest between the pieces. All the pieces are max.
3) Do the regular training for 4 weeks at low rates without using the stationary rowing machine doing it all on the water.
4) Do the same testing and compare results.