Coxswain recordings, pt. 10

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9

One of the most searched for and requested things that I’ve been asked to post since I started writing was more recordings of elite coxswains. Back in 2003 George Kirschbaum wrote his book and made a CD that had ten recordings of coxswains either practicing or racing on it. When I went home for Thanksgiving I found the CD and put the recordings on my YouTube channel (credited to the proper people, obviously) so you guys can listen to them. The two college coxswains are Kara McPhillips and Sarah Harrick, both of UVA. There are also four recordings of Mary Whipple and one of George, who I think is a high school coach in the DC area.

(The track listings are from the CD. I didn’t write them.)

Mary Whipple, USA 8+ Low rate practice (2003) || “A very long and low practice working ratings between 16 and 18 spm. Working for precise blade work and matching between rowers while maintaining maximum power application. Low ratings of this variety are difficult and require tremendous focus. This is a snippet of a workout that lasted approximately 90 minutes.”

Mary Whipple, USA 8+ Low rate practice + USA 4x (2003) || “A very long and low practice working ratings between 16 and 18 spm. The main difference between track 1 and 2 is the addition of the Women’s 4x in the practice. Mary works with her crew to race the 4x but without losing focus on what the technical goals are for the day. The key is moving the boat efficiently and making that the factor in their success over the other the boat. This is a snippet of a workout that lasted approximately 90 minutes.”

Mary Whipple, USA 8+ Milan World Cup Heat (2003) || “One of the stops on the World Cup racing circuit which act as preparatory races for the World Championships. This is the heat in which the US 8+ faces some stiff international competition. The goal of the heat is to get out and feel out your competition. Set yourself up well and move on to the final. Mary’s excitment before and during the race is palatable and adds to her crew’s confidence. The crew won the heat.”

Mary Whipple, USA 8+ Milan World Cup Final (2003) || “This is the final for the this World Cup stop. Mary keeps the tension low before the start of this high stakes race. The American crew is pressed a bit but sticks to their race plan thanks to Mary’s control of the situation. Mary keeps her crew pushing and apprised of where their competition is all the way down the course. The recording fades out due to technical difficulties, but rest assured, Mary’s crew won.”

Kara McPhillips, UVA WV8+ vs. Ohio State (1999) || “We shift gears a bit and jump into a 2000 meter collegiate race. Kara’s style is much different than Mary’s but the goal is the same: get the most out of her crew as she can. The idea here is to stay focused on the techincal elements that the crew has had problems with during practice while racing the crew from Ohio. Once ahead, Kara knows she has to keep her crew focused on the goals specific to her boat and keep them pushing their limits. UVA won.”

Sarah Harrick, UVA WJV8+ Practice at mid-range rates (1998) || “For those of you who wonder how to put together all the elements of coxing during a real long fall practice this is it. The ratings are higher than in Mary’s track so there is a slightly different focus. However, the goals are the same. Very technical, lots of feedback to the rowers, and aware of what is going on around them on the rest of the lake as well; listen when Sarah asks about a 4 also practicing- this is thinking ahead.”

Sarah Harrick, UVA WJV8 Eastern Sprints Heat (1999) || “This track is an example of what it feels like at the start of a race. You can hear the announcer talking to several crews, Sarah interacting with her crew and the officials, and the general atmosphere at a big race. The main thing one can learn from this track is how things can go, and how you can keep your crew loose. Sarah keeps her crew calm and relaxed. You can hear the confidence in her voice. The start is clean and they are away. The track fades out, but rest assured Sarah’s crew won.”

Sarah Harrick, UVA WJV8 Race image (1999) || “This is a very neat little track. It is Sarah reciting the race plan her crew will use for their final at the Easter Sprints. It is not so much a race plan as a step by step declaration of purpose and focus- not to mention attitude. It shows that to be the best you have to know exactly what is you are setting out to accomplish and believe it 100%.”

Sarah Harrick, UVA WJV8 Eastern Sprints Final (1999) || “One of the coolest, most exciting races I have ever listened too. This is a neck and neck race for the EAWRC championship. Sarah wraps everything into one package to bring the gold home: tactics, attitude, skill.”

George Kirschbaum with West Springfield High School WV8+ 2 minute piece (2003) || “This is a short track that simply gives another example of how to cox a basic practice piece. Rowing against another, slower, crew I had to keep my crew focused on the mechanics of the piece. One of the things I think you can also get from this piece is how you have to be in tune with your crew. I jumped into the coxswain seat for this practice. Even though I had coached them for months I never felt in tune and I feel like they might have done better with their regular coxswain. Coxing is more than technical calls and steering, it is building a bond with your crew so that they can feel confident whenever you make a call.”


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