Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream: Hey, it's harder than it
March 24, 1999
Bratwurst will be on the barbecue on Crown Point Shores. Athletes will be
hauling shells above their heads. University of Washington rowers will be
flexing their muscles. If spring's around the corner, that means it's time
for the Crew Classic. This weekend's annual regatta will attract more than
3,000 rowers. No doubt the sight of boats rhythmically pitching through the
water will move some to take up the sport. UCSD men's coach Michael
Filippone let's you know what's in store. If you're the type that throws a
fit when struggling to learn something new, you might want to pass on rowing.
"It's a long learning curve," said Filippone. "It's not easy walking inside
the boathouse door and getting to a level of proficiency where you enjoy the
The temptation for many beginning rowers is to try to muscle the boat with
their arms. Filippone says the motion is more like a power-clean lift where
the legs are crucial.
"The momentum starts with the legs," said Filippone. "The back doesn't engage
without the legs. The arms come into play almost as an afterthought at the
end of the stroke."
Hulking football types typically don't make the best rowers. They're often
too muscular and lack the fluidity crew requires. Athletes with long, lean
physiques, like swimmers, tend to excel at the sport.
In a heavyweight boat, male rowers seldom weigh more than 210.
The sport requires a combination of endurance and strength. At UCSD, the
Tritons will typically endure three or four one-hour workouts per week when
the rowers' heart rates are up to 150 beats per minute. They'll push an
aerobic threshold (180 beats per minute) twice a week for 40 minutes.
"Even if you don't have the technique down," said Filippone, who rowed at
Washington, "you're guaranteed a great workout."
If you're looking to join a rowing club, here are three you might try in San
Diego: San Diego Rowing Club (619-488-1892); Mission Bay Aquatics Center
(619-488-1036); and ZLAC, a women-only club (619-274-0661).
-- DON NORCROSS
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