RCTW Juniors Prepare for SWEAT

By: A. Griffiths
| Published 01/15/2010


THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- One of the least known Olympic sports in this area, is rowing. Few people probably don’t know that rowing competitions are the oldest form of sports competitions in the United States. Before baseball, before football and certainly before basketball, rowing was the sport of choice.

Rowing was the first intercollegiate sport when a race was held between Harvard and Yale in 1852. Fewer people probably know that high school students from Conroe ISD and the surrounding area regularly compete in rowing regattas and train right here in The Woodlands. The Rowing Club of The Woodlands (RCTW) has a juniors Crew that draws athletes from CISD and Tomball. Competitions start in the fall and the rowers travel to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK as well as host their own regatta on Lake Woodlands at Northshore Park.

The rowers may be off the water for the off season, but ask any member of the Rowing Club of The Woodlands (RCTW) Juniors crew and they'll tell you the off season is anything but easy. The juniors meet four days a week to lift weights, use the indoor rowing machine, affectionately known as the 'erg', and improve their cardio fitness.

“They are definitely getting stronger, especially in their legs” said assistant coach Mike Rosman. “We only work out with free weights and not machines to work on balance and core strength with athletic motion. Going in to sprint season this spring, the races are only 1000 meters while others are 2000M. It is more like a sprint than a long distance run and we need to build muscle and anaerobic capacity.”

“Practices during off season are by far the hardest hour and a half of my day. Even with the really hard workouts, I still enjoy going to practice to see my friends” stated Mark Racioppi, a junior at The Woodlands High School. “My favorite thing about the off season practices is that I am getting much stronger and more fit.”

“You can look at the kids and see they’ve packed on more muscle since the beginning of the school year. We’re working them pretty hard and they feel sore, even though they’re in good shape. They don’t complain; they encourage and support each other; they’ve accepted the challenge” adds Rosman.

The off season workouts pay off in an upcoming erg competition, SWEAT-Southwest Ergometer Amateur Tournament hosted by Jesuit College Prep in Dallas on Feb 6, 2010.

After SWEAT, the juniors are back on the water to prepare for the upcoming sprint regattas held in Austin, TX, Dallas, TX, Oklahoma City, OK and our own home regatta here in The Woodlands. “Our focus when we get back on the water has to be on technique. We work on getting the kids as strong and as fit as possible, then we can focus on boat speed. Boat speed is what wins races” said Head Coach Leonard Anderson. “I can put the strongest kid you can find in a rowing shell and if she doesn’t have good blade work she won’t do very well against this group of motivated teenagers. I tell the kids if they can focus on improving the efficiency of their blade work and gain four inches on every stroke over their competitors, then in a 1000M race they will be one boat length ahead at the finish, if everything else is equal.”

Rowing is a full body sport, like swimming and cross country skiing. Rowing uses every muscle group in the body on every stroke. “A 1000M race is between 3 ½ and 4 minutes of the most intense athletic activity these kids will ever experience, that is until they race the 2000M events at the US Rowing Central District Championships in Oklahoma City” said Anderson. From District, only the top two boats qualify to go to Nationals. “That is one of our goals, to have at least one of our boats qualify for Nationals. RCTW Juniors have qualified a couple of boats in the past to Nationals. I think this year’s team is as dedicated and as talented a group as we have had in recent years” said Anderson.

Located at North shore Park in The Woodlands, the club is dedicated to the advancement of rowing and is a registered member of the United States Rowing Association (US Rowing), the national governing body for the sport in the US. Established in 1882, US Rowing is America's oldest amateur sports association. Open to high school students from The Woodlands High School, College Park High School, Oak Ridge High School, John Cooper School, Woodlands Preparatory School as well as to homeschoolers, we provide training in the sport of rowing and compete in both head races as well as sprint regattas. For more information, visit their Web site at the link below.

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