Winter Training Update: The Johnsons Follow the Gopher rowing team as they are training in San Diego this winter break.
Follow the Gopher rowing team as they are training in San Diego this winter. Various Gopher rowers will contribute to the winter training trip journal.
Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009: The Johnsons: Katie and Emily
After a nice bike ride along the Pacific Ocean, we discovered our new favorite haunt, Yogurtland. This sweetshop offers upwards of 12 varieties of frozen yogurt ranging from taro to gingerbread and everything in between. On our return bike ride back to the Bahia we decided that if our current career plans don’t pan out, we’re going to open a Yogurtland franchise.
Feeling full of frozen goodness, it was time to turn our thoughts to our annual end of trip bonfire. After foraging for fodder, it was time to light the fire. This was our most epic fire, since its inaugural lighting in 2006. This yearly bonding experience helps to wrap up the week and prepare us to get back in the erg room. After everyone had a s’more it was time to go to bed to get ready for our final practice, “Race For the Cold.”
To commemorate our final winter training experience, Coach Davis put together an all senior boat for our last row in San Diego. It was a memorable row, watching the boats warm-up into the sunrise heading toward the Sea World channel, the starting line for our race. You could see the culmination of the week’s technical work as we barreled down the course. It filled us with great pride to see the team holding the changes we had made, even during an intense race piece. “Race For the Cold” was a great way to wrap up our week in Mission Bay.
Once the race was over and the trailer was loaded, there was only one more thing left to do...say goodbye to the ocean. We made a final walk down to the Boardwalk and enjoyed some final sun and surf. Adios San Diego, its time to return to our northern home. Goldy, here we come!
The Johnson “Sisters” (Katie, Oklahoma; Emily, Missouri)
Friday, Jan. 16, 2009: Erica Niemiec
Hello from San Diego!
It's hard to believe we have only one more practice here before winging our way home. Each day this week has been so perfectly sunny and warm that it feels almost as if we're living the same day again and again. However, the rowing has progressed, so I know we're not caught in a time warp. This morning, I spent both practices in a four, doing some drills and trying to put things together with all four rowing. (We also did a reconnaissance mission to discover that the huge boat we were rowing past was 127 feet long!) It's always a challenge for me and the rowers to keep from being frustrated while working in fours early in the season. The small boat magnifies what each rower is doing, making it more difficult to balance. It's a great opportunity to learn more about individual technique and how to make them mesh. And of course, it's hard to stay frustrated when there's a seal doing somersaults 10 feet away!
This year, I've felt more at peace here than I have in the past. For one thing, I've finally figured out how to land at the beach without making my bow seat take a dip or end up in the mud. For another, I can tell that the team as a whole is ready and eager to take whatever comes our way this season. San Diego in many ways is the calm before the storm: next week, we all begin school, training as a team, and all the other necessary distractions of spring semester.
This year more than any other, I feel like we've all got our metaphorical umbrellas ready. Everyone has work to do, too, and this week is also a reminder of that. For the coxswains, this has especially meant figuring out how to communicate and run practices smoothly. There have been some challenges this trip, but I'm very proud to be working as part of such a large group of talented coxswains this year. Even if it's something as simple as relearning how to count, everything we're able to figure out in San Diego is one less thing that has to be hammered out in chilly Minneapolis.
Even though it's our last full day, I'm planning on spending it much as I have the rest of this week - soaking up the sun, getting in a little light reading, and shooing away seagulls. I'm also looking forward to enjoying the traditional team bonfire and watching my last San Diego sunset!
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009: Katelyn Nichols
We’re soaking up all the sun we can as we head towards our last few practices in San Diego. Today the group I rowed with in the morning practice got an opportunity to repeat our four-minute pieces from the day before. We have been working on a lot of technique the past couple days, and we were tested as to how we could hold onto those changes when we did two of the three pieces at a 22 (rating) and one at a 24. You could tell we were all excited to get back into racing season since each boat had at least one piece where we were above rate. Being able to have another boat next to us was motivation for us to pull harder in each stroke. I think it was good for us to get a taste of that pressure and competition as we get ready to sit down on an erg for another two months. We have a long and intense winter training season ahead of us and now we’ll have that sense of racing fresh in our minds.
Most of the team has spent their off time traveling around scenic San Diego so far. I spent today away from the pool side and went to the USS Mission aircraft carrier downtown with coxswain Monika (Folker) and fellow rower Christine (Cira). We did some damage at the outdoor shopping mall, and then took the ferry over to the Coronado Island to get a ride back to our lovely Bahia hotel from Assistant Coach Wendy Wisehart. Unlike many of our Minnesota student counterparts, most of us rowers will be seen sporting a sun tan (or burn) but none of us are looking forward to exchanging it for wind burn when we get back. Even a local San Diego news station, KUSI, took interest in the California/Minnesota weather differences as Erin (Desmond) and I were interviewed after practice Wednesday. The reporter seemed quite content that he didn’t have to return to the arctic tundra that’s going on in the Midwest...lucky! I think this trip has been a good break for everyone; the general consensus is that we’re making a lot of big technical changes in a short period of time. We have three practices left, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can further improve.
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009: Stephanie Bakkum
Greetings from beautiful SUN Diego! Today is day 5 of our winter training trip and things on the water are coming together great! We started the morning with our daily 6:30 practice...it may be southern California, but before the sun has risen, the air is still quite cool. I was caught off guard wearing only a long sleeve. (To everyone back home I realize I have very little ground to complain.) This morning I was in the group that went out in two V4's. It was the first time in months any of us had been in the fours, which made for some rocky strokes but overall we made a lot of progress. We mostly rowed by pairs, having an opportunity to really work on technique...we did a few minutes rowing by all four and were all quite pleased with the way it came together! Snack break! In between morning practice and 11 a.m. practice we make the most of our time by chowing down and catching up on the TODAY show. Afternoon practice means one thing: tank tops! Besides putting the technique from morning practice to use through harder pieces in the afternoon practice, serves an equally important purpose...quality tanning time. In reality today's afternoon practice went really well. My boat did 3, 3 minute pieces & (1, 4 minute ) at a higher rate. Feeling the rate come up with the boat gliding on the water beneath you is so much FUN. After the first piece, I turned to (teammate) Lisa (Pugh) and said, "this makes me excited for spring racing." After we finished practice, our boat agreed that we have a great dynamic. I can't wait to do these pieces again in a few months and see how fast we fly! We wrapped up the practice by having our athletic trainer, Mike Joseph, hop in the boat and row with us. This was Mike's second rowing experience and he's already claimed a side, informing head coach Wendy Davis that he needed to go in for Baxter when he said, "I'm actually a port." The other seven rowers tried our best to make Mike catch a crab but he must be sneaking into the tank and practicing because he did quite well. We awarded him with the 'Best Athletic Trainer Rower award'. I'm looking forward to the next few days on the water before we have to head back. The sunshine in San Diego gives us a glimpse of what is to come in the spring...and is always a much-needed reminder when we are erging in the depths of a Minnesota winter. Aside from that we get to spend a lot of time with teammates next on the agenda: Point Lomo, beach cruisers and our infamous bonfire! Gopher senior rower Ali Fisher has entered in the first installment of their winter training trip.
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009: Ali Fisher
It’s hard to believe this is the fourth and final year I’ll be enjoying San Diego’s sunny rowing venue with my teammates and coaching staff. The Bahia Resort Hotel and Mission Bay welcome my pale teammates and me year after year, and laugh at our glee with their winter’ weather. Today it is 80ْ Fahrenheit a whopping 100ْ warmer between here and home! Trust me, we’re livin’ it up.
This year, above any of the three I have previously been a part of, you can feel the excitement and motivation with which all 30 varsity rowers and six coxswains attack every practice. Although this trip is more technique-focused, everyone has been eager to make changes and improve as we are well aware of how valuable these strokes are. Who knows when our mighty Mississippi will allow a rowing shell to go gliding along its waters rather than sliding along its ice!
Despite a long day of traveling to get here, everyone was soon acclimated to our home for the next week. Most of the varsity and novice can be found poolside by 12:30 every day, after our three practice shifts are complete. Others have already enjoyed boogie boarding on the Pacific Ocean (without wet suits, I might add. They are definitely Minnesotans!), sea kayaking in La Jolla, and visiting Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. Today, some of the seniors, who have become some of my closest friends, took me to lunch at our favorite restaurant for my 22nd birthday. The Mission, a local restaurant owned by the same company that owns Minneapolis favorites such as Chino Latino and Manny’s, offers amazing breakfast well into the afternoon, making it the perfect post-practice feeding hole. Tonight, the team plans on enjoying another local hot spot, Luigi’s Pizza, for $1 pizza slices at big as your head. We are well aware of the consequences this meal may incur at tomorrow morning’s practice, but the consensus is....it’s well worth it!
With only four days left in this sunny haven, there is still much to do! I still have not seen the sun set on the beach, and Coronado Island is calling my name. But between public transportation, our lone fifteen passenger van, and some rented bikes, we should be able to get it all in. Wish us luck!