How bad would it be for a collegiate rower to take a few days off in the middle of the season for bad grades?? How do you go about asking your coach without head being ripped off / guilt tripped/ “not rowing’s fault”?
I don’t think it would be bad, per se, to take a few days off to get things under control, meet with your advisers and professors, take care of what needs to be done, etc. (as long as you actually do those things and don’t just sit around catching up on Netflix or whatever). Will your coach(es) and teammates be disappointed that you’re not there? Maybe, because it might affect the week’s lineups and practice plans. A huge aspect of demonstrating your commitment to your team is being able to manage your course load effectively so that it doesn’t end up negatively impacting you or your teammates. Spring season is essentially what you spend the whole year training for, which is one of the reasons why that school-crew balance is so important.
School comes first though and your coach should already know that. If they try and guilt trip you, that’s not really an indication (to me, at least) that they’re doing their job correctly. It might not be rowing’s “fault” but that’s not to say that it didn’t play a part. I would approach the subject with them (as soon as possible), explain your situation (in it’s entirety, leave nothing out), lay out a timeline for when you’ll be out and when you’ll be back, and be willing to offer and make some voluntary concessions. That might mean doing workouts on your own to make up for what you missed or giving up your seat to someone else/forfeiting a seat race but the more willing you are to work with your coach, (hopefully) the more willing they’ll be to work with you. Ultimately, communication is key.
Go to your professors’ office hours too and see if you can work out something with them. They might be willing to give you an extension on a paper or work out some kind of extra credit opportunity to help you out. Not all of them are that friendly, understanding, or courteous so don’t expect any favors or special treatment going in. Most teachers though don’t want to see you fail and will usually try to do something to help you. If you can do that before you talk with your coach, that might make things a little easier for you because it shows that you’re actually making a real effort to get things under control.