No Rest For The Weary

March 10, 2004

By Keven Curtiss, WSU Sports Information

The life of a WSU rower is a year-long workout, despite what their schedule says.

The fall season consists of three races, ending in November, and then there is a long break before the spring season, which takes place between March and May. However, it is what the team does in the off-season that makes or breaks the season.

At the conclusion of the fall season the team immediately starts winter training. The Cougars' Christmas break is cut short due to the fact the team travels to Sacramento for winter camp January 3-12.

The rowing team works out five days a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the team has weight training with conditioning coach Matt Ludwig. In addition to that, the team gets together Monday and Friday afternoons for cross training.

It doesn't get any easier on Tuesday's or Thursday's when the team works out on the erg machine for over an hour. For those of you that don't know what an erg machine is, it is a simulated rowing machine that tests your endurance.

I can say from personal experience (I actually attended and participated in a workout to see how difficult their workouts are) the workouts are very demanding on the body, especially at 6:15 in the morning. The morning workouts usually last until 7:30.

The workout kicks off with an intense pilates session. I have never done anything like that and I can assure you my abdominal muscles have never been sorer. Either a series of upper body lifts or a leg workout follows. Ludwig really emphasizes speed in their lifts, looking for an increase in explosion for the athletes. A final abdominal workout and stretching concludes the morning workout.

Coming from someone who frequents the recreation center about four times a week, I couldn't imagine having to deal with that style of workout every time I hit the gym.

I can recall one shoulder exercise where everyone had weights in their hands at arms length and the goal was to see who could hold up their arms the longest. After my shoulders could take no more, I remember looking around and surprisingly everyone was excited to move on to the next lift, I thought to myself, 'this is insanity.'

The days that followed that one particular workout consisted of my continually searching for a cheap massage. I was so stiff, it's no wonder it has taken me all but two months to write this story.

Although the workouts are extremely demanding on the body, the rowers' acknowledge the importance of them.

Sophomore rower Laura Griffin likes the workouts because 'they make us mentally and physically stronger, we get faster on the erg, which hopefully will transfer to the water.'

According to the Alaskan native, the worst parts of the workouts are being off the water so long.

'This is a bit of a disadvantage for us because a lot of schools can be on the water year round,' said Griffin.

For that reason alone, the Cougars must train even harder to be successful in the Pacific-10 Conference.

Senior rower Audra Durfey also recognizes the importance of winter training.

'In a sport like this you can't really take a break away from training and expect to be competitive in the spring. We all know how much work it takes to get to nationals so while training is geared a little differently in the winter than the fall, we continue to train all year,' Durfey said.

'The best part of the winter workouts is watching everyone improve. We spend a lot of time on the erg machines and it's great to see constant improvement,' Durfey added.

The hard work has paid off. In 2001-02 the varsity eight took third at the Pac-10's and qualified to the NCAA Championships for the first time since the event was sanctioned in 1997 and placed 13th.

Furthermore, last year under first year coach Jane LaRiviere the squad earned its first team selection to the NCAAs where it placed 12th, and took third place again at the Pac- 10's. In addition, the varsity four finished in the top 10 at the NCAAs.

With the program on the rise, there's reason to expect more good things to come.

All winter long these athletes either start or finish their day with a grueling workout, and that is just to get them ready for the season. Along with the winter workouts, the rowers' are expected to stay fit in the summer. Ludwig sends the team a lifting packet and if they come back to school out of shape it will make the fall workouts that much harder.

When you read about the Cougar rowing team this season competing well, keep in mind all the hard work they have put in to earn those results.

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