Summer rowing for collegiate athletes

If you’re a college rower or coxswain looking for ways to keep rowing (or at least stay connected to the sport) over the summer, here are a couple of options to look into.

U23, High Performance, or Pre-Elite camps

Look into well known, successful clubs (Riverside, Vesper, Penn AC, NYAC, Thompson Boat Center, Craftbury, etc.) to see what they offer over the summer. These athletes typically train several times a week, compete at Club Nationals, Canadian Henley, etc. Some of them require applications so make sure you see what the pre-req’s are first.

Related: Can you explain Canadian Henley to me? People keep telling me it’s a national team thing.

Discounted summer memberships

Some clubs offer discounted membership rates in the summer for undergrads. This typically allows you full membership benefits, so you can check out small boats, join the recreational programs, etc. during the months of June, July, and August.

Coach or be a camp counselor

Coaching is fun and it actually really helps your rowing. When you’re really breaking things down to explain the concepts to novices or even varsity high school athletes, it really makes you think about your own rowing or coxing. If your local boat club offers Learn to Row classes for adults or youths, go see if they need coaches. If you’re hanging around campus for the summer and are taking classes, ask your coach if you can ride along with him/her and help coach the high school camps that your team is hosting or be a counselor that helps chaperone the athletes. Most people I know that have done that also use the down time when the kids are on the water to take out small boats.

Related: What kind of rowing program do you recommend for someone between senior year and college?

Work at a boathouse/boat club

Go to your local club and ask if they need any help running the front desk, answering phones, etc. and in exchange, could you rent a single to row in the mornings, etc. Employees typically get those perks anyways but it’s worth asking to make sure. If they don’t need any regular office help, ask any of the directors (programming, outreach, development, etc.) if you can put together an internship over the summer (paid or unpaid, up to you, but definitely see if you can get credit for it from your university) to work with them and learn about whatever it is they do. If you’re in the business school this would be a GREAT thing to do for educational, networking, and future career purposes. You’ll have something to put on your resume, a few letters of recommendation (do not forget to ask for those), AND you’ll still get to row.

Be an apprentice

One thing that every rower, coxswain, and coach should have a basic understanding of is boat repair. If you’re around campus and you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated boatman, go ask if you can come down and hang out a couple times a week to  learn how to repair boats, oars, etc. and help out with painting, cleaning, organizing, etc. I was shocked at how busy the boatman at CRI was last summer (and the rest of the year too). The Google spreadsheet that lists everything the club needs repaired, repainted, etc. is ginormous. The workshop itself is at least the size of my entire apartment, which is a pretty decent size, and there is always something needing to be done, so I have to imagine the help would be appreciated. When I was talking to Kevin Sauer a few weeks ago he told me about someone who came to observe his coaching during one of UVA’s summer camps and during the down and in-between time they helped the boatman with whatever needed to be done. It’s good experience, you learn something, and it’s another thing you can put on your resume, especially if you want to pursue coaching more seriously after graduating.

Related: Are there any summer programs you’d recommend for collegiate coxswains?

Go out in small boats

Take out a single or a pair with a friend and just row. The summer is a great time to learn the other side or become more proficient in it because there’s no pressure like there is during the year. Plus, rowing in small boats is one of the best things you can do to work on your technique because smaller issues that might not be as apparent in an eight will be easier to pick up on.

Cross train

Instead of rowing, do something different like hike, ride bikes, swim, etc. All that training will benefit you when you get back in the fall and start prepping for head race season and you’ll have the added benefit of not being completely burned out on rowing. I’ve had friends that train for and run marathons, go on month-long hiking trips, etc. so there’s plenty of options if you think outside the box.

If you want to row over the summer go for it but don’t feel like you have to. If you are regularly training during the summer, take a week off so your body can recover and you can chill for a bit before getting back into it.



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