It’s Ben here from the Senior Men’s Double Sculls. Today is Sunday, July 5th, meaning social media back in the States is a bit sluggish following the turmoil of Independence Day festivities. I’m taking advantage of this ebb to update those interested in the progress John and I have made in the past week.
Yesterday, John and I along with our recent training partners, Julie Nichols and Ken Jurkowski, left our Sarnen training setup to move to the Rotsee lake, home of 3rd World Cup. Our apartment is a stone’s throw from the water, reminding me of the common theme for this trip: finding paths of least distraction and logistical hassle. Swiss National Championships are taking place as I type, an interesting spectacle to behold as juniors, national team members, and masters crews compete all at once. We strolled down this morning to watch our Swiss friend, Peter Guggenbach, compete in his masters race (third place). Good news, the water is as gorgeous as ever, as is the brand new 8-lane course installed last week. It seems almost surreal wandering the path following the course; bleach-white bouys dot a placid glass surface where the world’s best flock to compete. This lake will be our temple and our altar on which we will have to offer our best next weekend to take the next step – qualifying the double for World Championships (7th or better).
The trip has been productive so far. Replete with video analysis, tests of speed on flat water and rigging refinement, John and I feel like we have made progress and cut some of the inefficiencies we have been humping around. It has been a valuable experience changing settings and absorbing wisdom from two of the most experienced Olympic scullers our country has known, Julie and Ken. Both have been to two Olympic games in the lightweight woman’s double sculls (once as an alternate) and the heavyweight men’s single scull respectively. They have seen everything happen during an Olympic cycle, and through ups and downs, retained self-sufficiency and resourcefulness (not surprised MacGyver is a popular choice on our TV). Julie is acting as coach for Ken in the single and honorary coach for John and I in the double. We are a week away and already Julie is asking for our race day schedules and other race day protocol. Like woah, I’m not used to this sort of planning at all! Her approach to racing is a healthy reminder to think ahead and be prepared, making sure nothing gets in the way of performing to your full potential on race day. I have thought of this whole trip as an exercise in carefully preparing and making informed decisions regarding racing, and I am hoping to come out with more maturity as an elite racer.
I am sorry to hear that it’s been so rainy in Vermont, especially since Switzerland has been experiencing a country-wide heat wave. The water in Sarnen read 30C yesterday, just a few degrees cooler than the air. Swimming is the only respite from the heat, and daily swims have become part of our recovery. Typing about swimming makes it hard not to go now so I’ll wrap up.
I can speak for everyone here expressing our excitement to race against the world’s best this weekend. Our boats get in on the Swiss trailer tomorrow, and then it’s time to ‘hone our blades’ and get to work.