GB Rowing Team Universities Conference

The second GB Rowing Team Universities Conference took place this week at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. The conference brought together delegates from across the higher education sector who all have a role to play in shaping the sport over the coming years.

The Conference was formally opened by Pete Sheppard, Chief Coach for Juniors & U23s, who welcomed Coaches, Directors of Sport and Club Captains to event before handing over to British Rowing Chairman Annamarie Phelps. In sharing the organisation’s 2020 vision, Annamarie set the scene for two days of presentations and workshops.

Angelo Savarino, Head Coach at Newcastle University BC, shared with delegates his philosophy behind building the Newcastle programme which has been so successful, most recently winning the Prince Albert Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. Following this, Professor Kevin Edge, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Bath, delivered a presentation on Sport in the University Community from a Bath perspective.

Following the lunch break Janousek & Stämpfli Racing Boats, sponsors of the conference, ran a practical demonstration on how to repair boats. Lane4’s Head of Research and Development, Dr Alison Maitland, presented the results of some recent research into high performance rowing clubs and challenged delegates to think about how they approach their work and the messages they deliver in creating a performance environment. Next up, Malcom Brown, British Triathlon Coach, provided and insight into how he ran the Leeds based triathlon centre which is home to Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. Day one concluded with breakout sessions with club captains getting the opportunity to discuss further the opportunities for competition and development in the year ahead. Coaches and Directors of Sports heard from Alex Henshilwood, Head of Coach at Eton College Boat Club, who talked about the transition of rowers from school to university which set the scene for discussion groups following this.

Day two of the conference had a programme which was directed at coaches and the day began with presentation from the English Institute of Sport’s Head of Strength & Conditioning, Alex Wolf who provided insight into the S&C programme for rowers and how testing and monitoring may affect the programme. Fiona Dennis, Chair of British Rowing’s National Competition Committee presented to delegates the findings of the competition review and the structure which will be put in place as a result of this. Next up, Sarah Davey, Performance Pathway Scientist, gave coaches an update on the profiling project currently underway. During the afternoon session Pete Sheppard provided a review of the key points from the U23 2014 season and highlighted the key dates for the coming season for those seeking selection for GB. Within this session Lewis Collyer, EIS Strength & Conditioning Coach, detailed some of the training standards that coaches should be incorporating into their programmes. To conclude the conference, two of GB Rowing Team’s current coaches shared their coaching journeys with delegates. Tom Dyson, Lead Coach Paralympic Programme, provided an insight into UK Sport’s Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Programme (ECAP) and how his participation in the programme had helped him develop his coaching. Paul Stannard, High Performance Coach, another ECAP graduate, shared with delegates his journey from school rower to his current position coaching the GB men’s quad.

Conference organiser, Pete Sheppard said “I was very pleased with the number of delegates present and the number of universities represented at the conference. We were extremely grateful to all the speakers who took time out from their normal routine to come and present and share their knowledge/views and there was no doubt they all gave everybody something to take away, think about and discuss on how they might improve their coaching and programmes going forward”.


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