I was crestfallen when, earlier this year, on viewing a video of me in my single, Kathy from Rowcraft Coaching told me I had no back swing.
Still, my attitude to discovering new flaws in my rowing is to be grateful that there are still things that I need to correct and, therefore, there is still scope for me to become a better, faster rower!
‘On the drive, think about keeping your shoulders directly above your hips‘, she advised.
This does feel better. I feel taller and stronger through the drive, whereas before I was focusing on getting my legs fully down before bringing on my upper body and, as a result, my hips were travelling ahead of my shoulders.
What is swing anyway?
In this video [21’05”] of crews from California Rowing Club in training, everyone seems to be swinging along nicely and getting great acceleration.
And what a cool soundtrack – I can’t help but jig in my seat! Bernhard Stomporowski obviously has skills other than coaching rowing.
I especially like the mens 2X at about 13’40”. That looks like swing to me.
“You look so good, good, good, when you do that swing thing…”.
And you can see the stroke man’s shoulder muscles engaging at the catch. Watching them, I can almost feel the catches myself.
And (there’s more!) what a good grip everyone has, with nice loose hands. It’s great to see some close up footage of grip.
In Swing on the recovery, Charlotte Hollings likens the rowing stroke to a swing set:
You pump your legs and lean your body back to go one direction (i.e. the drive), and then you swing your body forward and kick your legs underneath you to go the other way (i.e. the recovery). To make the swing set go higher, you need to lean further in each direction. If you were to keep your body back when you got to the top of the arc on the swing, you would slow the swing. This leads us to the idea of rhythm and ratio. Ratio on the swing set is very easy, it’s one to one.
She suggests that we might be overthinking the way we move our body:
Over and over, we see kids hop in a boat and row with ease, allowing the body to swing naturally, just like on a swing set. The adults on the other hand, with preconceived ideas of what it should be or perhaps just thinking too much, will turn the stroke into something mechanical and robotic – arms first, then body, then slide. Or they might exaggerate quick hands and slow slide, or slow recovery and quick drive. All of these styles are forced and there is nothing natural to them. The key is to relax and let yourself move.
Swinging for energy sustainability
Just today, Australia’s premier research agency, CSIRO, launched “a massive 8-person energy generating swing… to kickstart a conversation about energy sustainability in Australia”.
Each swing powers a light above its seat and the ambient music changes with the speed and strength of your swinging.
When all 8 seats are in action, the word ‘INFINITY’ is illuminated.
I’m hoping some Aussie crews jump on board and share some images with us.