Minnesota All-American Jenny Barnes earned an invitation to participate at the United States' Under-23 Selection Camp, which began on June 4 on University of Virginia campus. Barnes is one of 16 rowers invited and hopes to make the team that will compete at the 2007 FISA Under-23 World Championships held in Strathclyde, Scotland in July. Barnes will submit a weekly journal throughout the course of her experience at the training camp. The Columbus, Ind., native is the first Gopher to earn first-team All-America honors in the program's short history. Holding the No. 6 seat for the First Varsity Eight, Barnes and the Gophers won the Petite Final at the 2007 NCAA Championships, while the team finished sixth in the country.
U23 Selection Camp:
Location: University of Virginia (until the selection regatta in Princeton)
University of Princeton (during the regatta and after selection)
Housing: UVA - Dormitory w/ 4BD, kitchen, bath (unfortunately not the lawn)
Princeton Dormitory TBA
Day 1: June 4, 2007
The first day of camp was just a meeting that covered the general expectations of the selection camp. The head coach of the U23 selection camp is Dave O’Neill, head coach of the University of California-Berkley. He informed all 28 athletes that there are essentially three parts to this development camp; basic technique, selection, and race preparation. Technique will be the initial focus, but as the number of rows progress the three parts of the camp will begin to overlap.
He explained that being a coach-able rower is an asset at this level. There is a distinct gap between expectations at the Junior National and the U23 National level, whereas the difference between the U23 National and Senior National level is much smaller (“one step up”). The expectation at the higher level is self-sufficiency; being able to figure things out without direction. Now this is something that every coach wishes for in an athlete; someone always prepared, needing little direction. I realize, in a technical sense, I will have to be more on my toes and less dependent on the sweet nothings from the almighty (coach).
As workouts are concerned, Coach mentioned that he is a strong proponent of volume. Not every workout will leave you wishing for a new pair of legs, but every workout will be work. Three days a week there will be three-a-days, those other two weekdays will consist of two workouts, and the weekends having one practice a day. Also, a 2k erg piece was guaranteed, which will be interesting. My other CRASH B medalists are here, as well as people who have scores that are unknown to me. As for now, my focus will be fluidity with the other rowers.
Day 2: June 5, 2007
Practice started at 7 am with a quick erg demonstration of the preferred stroke for this crew. The key point he made was to keep the connection between the body and the legs off the catch. He wants the shoulders to be relaxed while keeping the core supported, not stiff, just strong. This is an area where I quickly learned I needed to improve. My posture during the recovery, as well as my core strength is something that I plan on hitting hard during these three weeks. After an 11 minute warm-up on the erg (1’ on, 1’ pause at body over) and a quick stretch it was off to 5 seat for me.
We started out by sixes rowing half slide with a pause at body over for 5 strokes every 20 strokes. This summer will test my undying hatred for the Resolute, which I have noticed the slides have been mounted on top of piece of wood, raising them 3-4cm. We are using Croker blades with a soft grip, which is nice until hour 3 when your hands get sweaty. After sixes at half slide we moved into full slide, and then up to all eight. Coach was weary of going all eight during the first practice, from his experience at last year’s camp, but he was pleasantly surprised, as was I. For those of you who rowed the Rivanna Romp last fall you remember the bridge. Well, we stayed down steam of it the whole time, getting ample practice in turning the boat; I might add we had trouble. All the fancy turners were chopping away, some of us were half stroking it, others were waiting to alternate; it was a mess. After the sixth time we got better, and it is still pretty bad, although I probably shouldn’t have laughed out loud. So, at 10:15 we made our way into the dock and gathered round for some good ole abs. My core is lacking in stability so I was extremely nervous about doing an ab circuit. We did and arrow for 2 min (3 for hot shots, not me), 1 _ min, and 1 min; which after I stopped at two minutes I looked over and saw someone using only one leg for the remaining minute. There were also apple pickers (alternating toe touches), and scoops (legs parallel to the floor, lift with legs straight to perpendicular, bend and repeat) both 3 by 1 min. At 11am I was ready for second breakfast, which sadly turned into lunch.
Currently we have been having personnel issues. This morning there were too many ports, just my luck. We are still waiting for a sculler to arrive (she had a late graduation), so a sweep rower has been drafted. Also, one of the coxswains has to return home to clear up something, which leaves us with one coxswain until the other one arrives. We already have three spares, which thankfully, I was not switched out halfway through today. As you can see organization is not as highly valued as one would expect. Coach mentioned that with collegiate rowing is more structured, and I am starting to find that to be true.
Having extra ports at this camp, another port and I were asked to erg 15k and then meet the eight on the dock. If time permitted then we would have a chance to switch in for about twenty minutes. The reason why I was selected to spend quality time with the erg was because I don’t sit up enough at the catch, making me appear to be 5’8”. Coach’s explanation: The key to rowing your height is to move your stomach toward your thighs, not your chest. Focusing on not lunging or hunching over at the catch reiterates that bad habit. During the pieces I focused on being smooth with my shoulders at the catch, and keeping my back as tall as I could. Every few thousand meters I kept thinking that if I didn’t get this change then he’d already have a pretty good idea which port to ax. After rowing behind my erging buddy in the morning I knew that I didn’t want to be put in her category. No offense to her, she has been rowing for less than 2 years (former volleyball player) and seemed a little rigid to me. Making changes immediately would redeem me of my bad habits; I want to be coach-able. After thinking about my stomach and battling with my fellow port at a 2:07 for 3 by 5k (which she always finished a stroke ahead of me), I had the chance to prove myself in the eight.
Applying my new posture to strokes felt foreign to me, which turned out to be a good sign. I felt as if I had no forward body swing whatsoever. Coach assured me that I was getting plenty of reach, being in agreement with the spares in the launch. Relieved that my concentration had translated onto the water, I was able to relax and concentrate more on my compression. With my new posture more compression became more attainable, although I am still working on my flexibility.
There have not been any pressure strokes as of yet, but I am predicting some sort of piece tomorrow. I did hear that the afternoon practice will be a hard erg piece; which I wish I was still in erg shape. Also, I hope to remain in the middle of the boat. I have talked to the girls who bowed today and they have never seen the bow of the boat at their schools. In a land of fives and sixes I hope to keep improving at a pace that will keep me in the engine room. So, test number one complete, and I am glad to say that I passed.
Day 3: June 6, 2007
Once again with one coxswain the practices were run in two shifts for the sweep rowers. At 7am I was in the erg group and then at 10am I was out on the water. The erg workout was a beast, making me wish I had kept up the erg during the spring season. Dave, staying true to his claim of volume, planned for a 16k and then 5 by 250m w/ 30” rest. The 16k could be broken up with no piece longer than 7k and stretching between pieces with small groups erging together. I joined a girl from UCLA and Amanda (not sure about her school). We decided to start long and then work our way down, a possible blunder. Our original plan was 6k, 5k, 5k.
The 6k was not kind to me. After erging 3 by 5k yesterday afternoon at a 2:07 I was anxious to see what my new counterparts would be holding for this workout. Sitting between the two, I was disappointed to see that they were holding a 2:00 right from the beginning. Not wanting to fall behind too much I decided that a 2:04 would be something that I could straight split. After they waited for me to finished, we stretched out for a minute or two and decided to go ahead with the 5k. I knew I had gone out too hard on the first piece, but I could not curb my competitiveness. This next one I decided to deal with my lack of fitness, 2:07 seemed reasonable to me, and I was glad to see that the girl from UCLA thought that 3 more split seconds was a good idea as well. Amanda kicked my ass at a consistent 2:01-ish for all the long stuff, so enough about her. The second piece I just kept thinking to myself, “just row your race.” With 11k down we decided that 2 pieces of 2500m would get the job done. Once again I struggled to hold my precious 2:07, morphing into 2:08. Finally, I decided to concentrate on my new posture, that way I could move on to more important facets of the stroke when we got on the water. The first 250m piece was to be at a 28 SR and then increase from there (40 max, I laughed). The 250s were good, Amanda beat me by a stroke and UCLA was right behind me. All of my pieces were under 1:50, a few well under, leaving me in second of our group. Erging was a humbling experience today, something that needed to happen. Even more so this whole camp has been a humbling experience, and it is only Day 3. Not to sound arrogant, but now I can appreciate what some of my teammates from Minnesota must feel when we have pieces.
With an hour between morning workouts I was stretched and ready to row. Two people were sent in the pair, Kelly (erg friend from yesterday) and Amanda; which I was happy to dodge that bullet, this time. I was in five seat following Taylor again, which is still a good sign. Another technical-type row left us starting by sixes and then moving to all eight. Starting off, Coach let me know that my posture was good, but next we started to work on my shoulder movement. At the catch I was grabbing the water with my shoulder, instead of leaving my weight in my core. I still can’t feel it very well but relaxation was something that I thought would help. Today I wasn’t the only rower getting coached, so I was relieved to hear that others were in my place. We did the pair ad-in drill again today, but took strokes at pressure when we got up to all eight. My posture is good at pressure, so the change has been made. Every now and then, at pressure, I can feel my shoulder being tense, but this movement is something that may take another practice to hone in on it.
The plan for this afternoon is an easy row. Coach rated today’s practice a 3 on a difficulty scale from 1 to 5. This afternoon should be 1.5, but tomorrow morning will be a 4. Thankfully it is on the water; longer pieces, but on the water. Sunday the Women’s Senior National Coach is going to visit us and wants to see us erg for 1’ at max. I am sure there will be something else that we will erg along with that piece. Someone asked what the stroke rate would be for something like that and a 40, at least, was suggested; so it should be an enjoyable start to the week.
Finally all of the rowers made it to camp. Now there are enough people for 2 quads, 2 eights, and a straight four. Right now it is hard to tell why people are being boated in each boat, but as long as I am with Coach I know that things will go well. Even if he feels that I have many issues to work through I want him to see that I want to learn; to be a better rower.
This afternoon I was in 3 seat following Mara and watching Jamie from Yale (fellow CRASH B medalist). Coach mentioned that she has the fastest catch East of the Mississippi, so I’ll be watching her like a hawk. Shoulder movement and quick catches were the main focus points of our row. During the opening drill, the pick drill, my shoulders were too noisy, something that will plague me for a while. Lengthening to full slide the shoulders relaxed but still are doing too much. A two part pause rounded out our work in sixes, pausing at arms away and then half slide. I was overjoyed that Coach appreciates the flip-catch, so now my slow hands will be able to hide for a little while longer. Although, quick catches were a goal for the afternoon. For a few strokes (with his feedback) I could feel the edgy catch that Coach wants; I know the feeling, now it’s time to use it.
Most of the practice we rowed without Coach due to a rigor issue in the other eight. As he drove back and forth looking for tools/parts he would give us tidbits, but today was more of a self-asses type day. A small break from the pressure of a coach was something that I already needed. Once start to read what Coach is thinking and how he works there will be a little less pressure and more focus on the boat. I feel that if I don’t get his stroke early on then my chances for selection will quickly diminish. When seat racing rolls around my focus will be on the boat, otherwise things will not go well. Eights felt better today. It’s nice to row with new people and new line-ups and still be happy with going all eight; I am working with some wonderful athletes.
Day 4: June 7, 2007
This morning’s workout was not as intense as Coach had intended due to some more hardware issues with the eights. The rigors that we are using are Resolute rigors, but apparently a different brand of rigor is less of a headache for Resolutes. Anyway, pieces in the eights, mostly by sixes but then all eight. The strokes were at pressure, focusing on three areas: rhythm out of the finish, maximum bend in the oar through the mid-drive, and connection into the catch; areas that we have been concentrating these first few days. We had two eights, a double, and a pair this morning. I was in Ari’s eight (Princeton’s coxswain) sitting in 5 seat. Once again I was watching Jamie and today I was following Elle. I think it is a good sign that I am sitting in the same boats as Jamie. I am pretty sure that his intention was to boat two even eights.
Before practice this morning Coach pulled me aside and explained my shoulder troubles once again. At Virginia’s boathouse they have erg handles suspended off of poles, and he showed me what my shoulders were doing in the boat. I tried to feel the difference between right and wrong. Standing there hanging off of the handle I could feel that the right way was easier, but in the boat it is still hard to find that suspension.
On the water the pieces were 8’ by sixes switching pairs every minute. The first piece I kept the posture and the shoulders under control for the first 4’ but then coach said that I started to revert back to my old stroke. On the second piece I made sure that when I switched back in that I kept my body tall and shoulders relaxed as possible. Mara, 4 seat, said that she could tell that I was really working on sitting up, which she was as well, so success on the second piece. After some hardware issues and waiting for the quads to finish their pieces, we did a piece 4’ by sixes and the remaining 4’ all eight. The rate cap was no higher than a 22, which on the first piece was a little hard to control. The next piece was more relaxed and powerful. The goal during each piece was to get the maximum bend in the oar at the mid-drive and carry that power through the stroke. I was concentrating on keep my shoulders quiet while applying more and more power. I think the sweet nothings are 50/50 improvements to be made and compliments on changes, so things are going well.
Ab workouts are a different story. Today the arrows were for 2:30, 2, and 1 min. We did 4-3-2-1, a sit up progression of legs down sit ups, one leg bent (each leg), and both legs bent, doing 4 for each type, followed by 3 and so on. Then Supermans 9” up 1” down for 90”, and lastly 15 pushups guided by up/down. I am definitely behind when it comes to core work. I think I’d rather have 3 workouts everyday and just skip the ab work, even though I know it will just make me stronger. I just don’t like not being able to do something as well as everyone else, especially for something this big. I don’t want Coach to think that I am slacking, and I don’t want him to think that I am weaker than others, but I am behind. Here’s hoping for a spot in the eight this afternoon; same workout as this morning, but probably less rest.
I was boated in a double this afternoon with Kelly, a non-sculler. Being limited in sculling experience myself, I was ready for a nice easy row. Part of me was disappointed that I was not boated in the eight, but I took that time to focus on taking good strokes and making friends with Kelly. We were sent off on our own for a couple of hours and things seemed to be moving pretty well. She was a fast learner, still shaky, but I reassured her that having sculled for her first time things would be challenging. As I passed my sculling knowledge from last summer onto Kelly we noticed that we are both port oar retarded. We managed to stay dry and had a good chat.
Coach made another speech about not getting discouraged throughout these first few practices. A good day will not make you and a bad day will not break you. I think he was hinting that one of the eights had a better afternoon than the other one; which I am partially glad that I missed out on that frustration. Tomorrow is a new day, and I want to be boated with Coach for tomorrow’s rows. The erg, however, is another story. At least it is not another ab workout!