GB para-rowing squad mix it up during lockdown

The GB Para-rowing squad have been finding innovative ways to mix up their training from home

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GB para-rowing squad on a Zoom call

We spoke to Chief Paralympic coach Tom Dyson, PR3 mixed coxed four coach Nick Baker and cox Erin Kennedy to find out what the team have been up to.

Home gyms

As soon as lockdown was announced, the para squad coaches delivered equipment from the Caversham training base to the rowers’ homes in what Nick describes as “a sort of coaches Uber service”. Each member of the squad received an ergometer (rowing machine) and Tom and Nick tried to ensure that they had access to another piece of aerobic training equipment for variety, such as a bike or handbike.

With help from the English Institute of Sport, they also delivered weight training equipment to supplement each rower’s home gym setup; Nick adds: “There have also been a lot of community gyms who have been really kind in letting our athletes use their equipment.”.

 

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Training programme

While training remotely can be tough, it also gives opportunities to tailor each person’s training programme to their individual requirements. Individual schedules, motivation and even the weather have all come into consideration.

Tom says: “There has been a shift away from a fixed daily training programme to providing rowers with a menu of training, including two weekly ‘challenges’ that are new and exciting, rather than replicating regular training sessions.

“Along the same lines, we have given each rower more control over their S&C programmes. They have a ‘skeleton programme’ which covers the non negotiables for their musculoskeletal wellbeing and then are able to pick their own exercises through to create a fully detailed programme as they would normally follow at training.”

“Obviously they’re all training in different setups, so in the first week or so we asked everyone to film “MTV Cribs” videos of their home gyms to help us understand the options or limitations in each of their spaces.”

 

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Staying in touch

The para squad is an extremely close knit group and this is one of the things they have tried to protect and continue during lockdown. As Nick puts it: “One of our priorities has been keeping that close knit community we’ve worked hard to develop and looking after each other in this period.”

Tom describes how the group have been staying in touch: “Rowers have been meeting up online to complete certain training sessions but this hasn’t been a requirement – we wanted to give each of the rowers the chance to take some space and tailor their days as they wish.

“As well as checking in with rowers individually, we’ve held an optional virtual coffee call each morning – this is a consistent chance for everyone to see a friendly face, ask our coaches, physio or S&C coach any questions or simply have breakfast as part of a group as they would normally do at training.

Erin adds: “One of the benefits of being a smaller squad is that we can all meet up together – every Tuesday morning at 8:30 we have a compulsory full squad catch up to share any important admin information, so everyone knows what’s going on.”

 

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Special events

The team have also been taking advantage of technology to facilitate new and exciting sessions, such as cooking tutorials with GB Rowing Team chef Marcin to help the squad learn new recipes at home.

Erin says: “The coaches and staff have been joining in on our Zoom training sessions and we’ve also had special guests from other sports, like Paralympic swimmer Alice Tai and Paralympic cyclist Helen Scott.”

 

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Thanks to Tom, Nick and Erin for joining us! You can hear more from Nick and Erin on their episode of the British Rowing Lockdown Webinars.

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