Rowing in the Tanks

Hannah Mullett ’16 (Varsity Women)

Major: Writing Intensive English

Hometown: Wabash, IN

On Saturday February 21, I had the opportunity to travel with teammates and a few coaches to Madison. We met up with St. Charles and were fortunate enough to practice in the tanks. Coming from small town Indiana, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this practice. I’m currently in my third year of rowing, so I was really excited to experience something knew. I remember the first time we were at Madison for Midwinter Meltdown. The novice women’s coach, Gina, showed me the tanks. My immediate response was, “When can we get some of these?”

It’s kind of difficult to explain the reactions of my teammates and myself when we first walked in. Everyone was off the wall excited, talking, and wanting to touch everything. We knew it was going to be a different experience, but we were ready to have a blast putting in the work. We were first split up into three different groups for the three stations that we would rotate through, two times each, throughout the duration of practice. The tanks are split in two halves: one side being all starboard, the other being all port. The third station was erging; the part of practice where we were told to “sweat a little more.” I started out on the starboard side, which is the side that I normally row in the boat, so I felt comfortable before we started. We began with simple drill work allowing us to get used to the feeling of the tanks. It was weird at first; to feel the water, but not actually move anywhere. Then we switched to port, which I’ve only rowed a few times, and I felt like I forgot how to hold the oar altogether. It didn’t end up being as bad as what it was when we started, but I definitely needed to pay closer attention to the minute details on that side. The drills allowed us to work on our drive and applying pressure like we would on the water while simultaneously forcing us to be conscious of blade work. The ergs are so different from the boats, and a lot of times during the winter season we lose the blade technique. After being on the ergs for so long, it was crucial to get a break and do some work with the oars. Focusing on technique for the entire practice time was really beneficial. Each rower sat in a different spot each rotation, which doesn’t typically happen during normal practices. It was really cool to see the improvement in everyone’s strokes by the end of practice. I haven’t been that sore in a really long time, but that’s the best part. At practice the following Monday, everyone was saying how sore they were. It’s the most satisfying part of rowing. When you’re sore, you know you worked hard. Hard work means getting better, and getting better means doing well in
races which is something that this entire team is striving for.

Madison’s facility is unbelievably nice, and I’m very happy and thankful that our team had the opportunity to travel there. I greatly appreciate Madison allowing us to use their boathouse for practice. It was an experience that allowed us all as a team to learn from. I also want to put in a quick thank you to St. Charles. Without them, we would not have been able to go. Thank you thank you thank you to all the coaches, rowers, and coxswains. We really enjoyed working with you guys! I sincerely hope we get to share this experience again in the future!

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