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Rowing with the Gators: Week 1

15.Feb.2016 by Maddie Lips

Week one of our winter southern migration to Florida is on the books! (That is, Week 1 of the GRP Rowing team assembled in full force…some have already been here for a few weeks and are slightly ahead in the uni tan line game).

Singles on Canal 54

Singles on Canal 54



Young Ben expertly carries many oars

For those of us who just arrived, this week was all about settling into our houses, getting in lots of meters, and adjusting physically and mentally to this new phase in our training cycle.

Ben Dann missed the memo that Florida is warm

Ben Dann missed the memo that Florida is warm

C54 Canal...miles and miles of straight, flat water!

C54 Canal…miles and miles of straight, flat water! PC:

We’re training at the C54 Canal out of the Sebastian River Crew boathouse. The canal is incredibly long and straight, making it ideal for long, continuous rows. And although there is the slight chance of getting bored with the lack of turns or scenery changes, the likelihood that you’ll hear a splash as a gator slithers off the shore and into the water keeps us awake! I have yet to see anything larger than a big frog that decided to join me for my row as I launched off the shore this morning, but several others have spotted gators…I’m keeping my eyes open.

"There are gators here?" -Frid

“There are gators here?” -Frid

Our training at this point is a bit varied throughout the squad as different boats train for different deadlines or goals. The men’s pair is on an accelerated plan as their selection event occurs in March in California, ahead of the rest of the squad.


Parker and Andrew adjust rigging in the pair

The women are on a slightly adapted schedule for now as well as we work on selecting the fastest double combination. The quad and Erik had a bit of excitement in their training plan last Saturday as they took on the men’s open division at the Southern Sprints, a large indoor rowing race in nearby Melbourne.

Warming up for the 2k at the Southern Sprints

Warming up for the 2k at the Southern Sprints

Erik took away the win with a 5:57.8, followed closely by Ben Davison with a 5:59.4, both personal bests for these young bucks. It was great to see such a huge event with so many juniors and master rowers, and to remember how big the rowing community is getting!

At the erg sprints, we ran into our friend, Sean Vangerena, who raced in the adaptive event–we last saw him at Craftsbury at the Paralympic IPC NorAm Cup in January…small world!

Sean and his training group, Lay Down or Stand Up! Amazing racing by his whole team!

Sean and his training group, Lie Down or Stand Up! Amazing racing by his whole team!

We’ve also been lucky enough to work with Treasure Coast Crossfit here in Sebastian to get in our strength workouts. In exchange, we’re helping out with their erging technique so they can crush those WODs!

Team photo at Treasure Coast Crossfit

Team photo at Treasure Coast Crossfit

Hugh encourages a Crossfit athlete

Hugh encourages a Crossfit athlete

Lifting at Treasure Coast Crossfit

Lifting at Treasure Coast Crossfit

We plan to do some more collaboration with the Sebastian River Crew soon to assist with their canned food drive and build permanent boat racks…we’re lucky to be getting involved with such a great rowing and fitness community down here.

Other highlights from our adventures down south: a Valentine’s themed team meeting, complete with a shower of rose petals by Troy and Spongebob-themed cards and fake tattoos; a determined trip to the beach on an afternoon off, despite 17mph winds and chilly temperatures (the bundled up Floridians thought we were crazy!); and (Burger) King Troy lays down the law at practice. Stay tuned for more from the GRP Rowers!!

(Burger) King Troy

(Burger) King Troy

Liz gets buried in sand...for warmth

Liz gets buried in sand…for warmth


A Rower’s First Impressions of Craftsbury Winter

7.Jan.2016 by Maddie Lips

I’ve been rowing at Craftsbury in the summers since 2012, and I’ve fallen in love with the rhythm of summer in Vermont—hot, sunny rows followed by a dip in the cool lake, epic thunderstorms, ice cream on the dining hall deck. But I’ve never experienced winter at Craftsbury…until now!

Even though I’m from Colorado, I was warned that the winters are more extreme here, so I bought some muck boots and flannel-lined pants in anticipation. When I returned from being in Denver for Christmas, I immediately asked one of the GRP skiers, Hallie, to teach me and another GRP rower Liz the basics of skiing. All of Christmas break I’d been looking forward to learning a new sport and getting out in the snow!

Learning to ski is a humbling experience as an athlete, although I think my expectations of my abilities were sufficiently low to make me excited by my progress throughout my first attempt—and Hallie is a great teacher! It’s fun to share our sports between the two sides of the GRP team. Hallie had been a regular attendee of the community rowing program throughout the summer and had gotten pretty speedy out on the water, so it was great to turn the tables and try to learn her sport.

I had tried skate skiing once before Thanksgiving on the short loop of snow the Center made before snow started falling, and I had basically just pulled myself around with my poles, so Hallie made us start without our poles. It turned out this helped a ton, as I’m sure anyone who’s taught skiing before would know—those inside edges are actually super helpful!


Caution: Rowers loose on the trails! Maddie and Liz in a lesson with Hallie.

Craftsbury is such a different place when skiing is the focus. I had always heard about how much more crowded the Center is in the winter at the height of ski season, but it’s a different story to see it and realize how incredible it is to live in a place that’s a winter destination for people from all over. It’s so fun to see national team skiers, college skiers, and little kids zooming around with their parents in tow…and of course, tall, gangly rowers trying to stay upright! See you on the trails!