Thursday, June 29, 2006

Summer Rowing

Now that the summer is here, it begs the question of what are college lightweights doing? Cross training, rowing, or nothing? No doubt we'll see some college lightweights racing at summer regattas, including nationals and Canadian Henley. Rowers with international aspirations will view the summer as an important part of their rowing career because it is a chance to test themselves against intermediate and senior lightweights who also have the same aspirations. Of course, it's also the time to learn (or continue to learn) sculling because the only international lightweight events for women are sculling events.

Thinking about national team lightweights raises another question - how many national team lightweights were lightweight rowers in college? While I don't know for sure, it seems to me that most weren't, or at least didn't compete as lightweights. For all of the worry at the collegiate level about lightweights and weight issues, at the international level extreme weight loss is almost encouraged. USRowing allows lightweights to weigh 140 pounds for the April erg test, 15 pounds over the international weight limit. Why are these large weight fluctuations allowed and what good does it do anybody to test at 140 pounds?

I also wonder if lightweight collegiate coaches encourage national team aspirations, or at least make known the opportunities, as much as heavyweight coaches. There is, however, at least one collegiate lightweight on the national squad. Hannah Moore lists her most memorable sporting achievement as "winning the varsity lightweight eight title for Villanova at the IRA Championships." Remember that? It was 1998. Villanova now rows lightweight boats of opportunity and hasn't been heard from since.


Anonymous said...

I will be an incoming lightweight and I am competing competitively during the summer. I have national team dreams, but I find it very hard to figure out how to fufill these dreams. I've been talking to some of the male national team members, and most don't think the junior national team is not a good idea -- especially since they don't have lightweight options -- and because I am now too old. There should lightweight opportunity on the U23 team and more opportunity on the senior squad. I'd definitely like to see some lightweight sweep rowing be picked back up in the international world. How do we do this?

Anonymous said...

Probably by having more entries on the international level, having more funding for the world championships in general and making the sport far more spectator friendly so that the olympic programme isn't contracted any further.

JW Burk said...

I think that the only international lightweight sweep event for women was the pair, and I don't think that lasted too long. At the Olympics, the only recent discussion about lightweight events has been whether to drop any or not, not whether to add some. Worlds has the 2x, 1x, and 4x, and I think that's as good as it will get. The men can't field a full lightweight eight field, so I can't imagine the women getting that event. The issue here is the same as it is among colleges - how to increase participation.

Anonymous said...

Is that no what I said? More entries?

And the IOC is always talking about cutting back on rowing because its expensive w/o having massive fan support. More spectator appeal = less likely to cut events.

Anonymous said...

It's not just the expense - you'd have to build a rowing course whether you were running one event or fifty, so $ issues would impact whether the whole sport of rowing were dropped, but less so whether particular events get cut. As I understand it, the big issues around lightweight rowing in the Olympics are: (1) that the IOC would prefer not to sponsor weight-based sports, and (2) that the number of participants and medals for rowing are huge, and arguably out of proportion to the global popularity of the sport. At this point FISA has been waging a desperate fight just to keep the current program off the chopping block, so the likelihood of any new Oly events seem slim to none.

The best thing that LW rowing has going for it is its potential to expand rowing's global reach into areas where the sport has not traditionally been strong - already evident in the fact that Latin America and Asia tend to be better represented in LW events than HW events. Greater global popularity = greater likelihood that the IOC will leave the current rowing events alone.

As to getting LW sweep back on the world's program, good luck - the Olympic events are where the money and glory are, and where smart athletes and coaches will focus their attention. As a non-Olympic event that didn't even feed into an Olympic event (all sculling!), the LW2- was pretty much a complete dead-end without even much potential to provide development towards the Olympics. Not surprising that it was undersubscribed, undercompetitive, and ultimately dropped from the program.

Anonymous said...

Yea the IOC is really reluctant to support weight based sports like rowing... you know boxing, wrestling, weight lifting, judo and I believe TaeKwanDo. You're totally right. Those have been on the verge of elimination since forever (note: TaeKwanDo was actually added! in 2000)

Anonymous said...

Um, yeah, you might want to check your history.

See pages 4 and 14.