Across the nation sports are preparing themselves for the return to club activities and doing their best to keep the population entertained and participants active in their homes during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
For rowing, this is no different. Clubs across the country are doing their best to provide different forms of rowing related and other physical activity while preparing for the phased return of water-based competition.
Rowing in lockdown
With traditional competition on the water unavailable for an indiscriminate amount of time, Scottish Rowing recognised the need to try and keep their members engaged, motivated and active during the lockdown period.
The collective thoughts of those at Scottish Rowing and their associated clubs led to the launch of multiple online virtual challenges for their members. This included the launch of the first ever Scottish Rowing Lockdown League.
The Scottish Rowing Lockdown League was a 58-day competition that allowed Scottish Rowing members to compete digitally during lockdown. The league allowed participants to take part in different forms of physical activity – the indoor rowing machine, cycling and running – and upload their activity to be displayed on the weekly Lockdown League Table.
Twenty-six rowing clubs took part in the league, which makes up over 85% of the overall Scottish Rowing members. The league proved to be a success for the Scottish Rowing community, with over 3,500 submissions and over 102 million metres logged by the competitors.
However, the Lockdown League was not the only competitive opportunity open to rowers during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Clubs also took their own opportunity to create a unique project to keep their members happy. Holly Reid, a coach in Aberdeen, describes some of the initiatives put in place.
“With the sudden loss of a racing season to keep the athletes motivated, we quickly needed to find other competitive opportunities.
"Using technology proved to be successful as we arranged a race morning over Zoom with Lea Rowing Club in England and took part in alternative online ergometer challenges in place of the Scottish Rowing Championships and Henley.”
Keeping it fun
For Scottish Rowing and all involved, there was a recognition that any substitute exercise programmes needed to be both easy to incorporate into the realities of lockdown and, most importantly, fun.
“Our training during lockdown was focussed mainly on being varied and enjoyable, suggesting daily sessions that could be done around the school day, at home and with limited equipment available,” explains Holly Reid.
To make joining in easier for those practising at home, alternative equipment was suggested, such as weighted rucksacks. However, bodyweight and cross-training exercises were incorporated as well. What was most important to all involved was that the athletes were staying active by using a mode of exercise they enjoy, whether that be running, cycling or even walking.
There was also an ambition to provide engaging speakers for members through a series of live Q&As and webinars. These featured expert panels of athletes, coaches and Olympians including Dame Katherine Grainger, Heather Stanning OBE and Olympic rowing coach Robin Williams MBE.
Getting back on the water
Alongside delivering these competitive and educational initiatives, Scottish Rowing has also been planning for a phased return to the sport in line with the Scottish Government’s route map. Whilst they have been keen to get back on the water they have also been mindful of the importance of being socially responsible.
Amanda Cobb, chief operating officer for Scottish Rowing, outlined the approach that had been taken.
She said: “We have supported our member clubs to ensure that they have been ready to reopen with appropriate measures in place including enhanced cleaning and hygiene standards, physical distancing and management of group sizes.
“Initially rowing could only take place in single sculls, with larger boats restricted to members of the same household. However, in recent weeks, as government guidelines have eased, we have started to phase in the return of crew boat rowing which allows many more people to get back out on the water and enjoy the sport.”
As the rowing community have had many months out of the boat Scottish Rowing has provided training advice, developed in partnership with the sportscotland institute of sport, to facilitate a safe and healthy return to the water.
Find out more:
Visit the Scottish Rowing website