I'm finally starting to get the hang of this sculling thing in an effective way. The technical changes we were asked to make after arriving here are starting to become more natural and less a mental effort to maintain throughout practices and pieces.
Some of the new and effective changes we've made include a "gather" at the finish and a very separate recovery/drive cycle. The blades exit the water at the finish and the hands are held for a moment in the lap, while holding the body upright with very little layback. Then the arms lead out of the release, followed by the knees breaking and the body coming forward simultaneously with the knees compressing up. At the catch, the blades are placed quickly but fully before the legs are engaged, rather than being "rowed in". Then the legs drive back with a forceful suspension, keeping the core engaged but not opening with the shoulders until the very end of the drive, and with the body still being kept almost entirely upright.
It's difficult to "convince" myself that even if the leg drive doesn't start until I can feel that the blades are fully buried, the blades will not be slowing the boat down. But it makes sense that the boat isn't moving as fast as we think it is, and as we get better and the rates get higher, we'll be able to place the blades more quickly and unconsciously, and it won't be an issue. The gather is also something I am still having to work at remembering to do the same way on every stroke--it's hard because it turns the stroke cycle into a 6 count instead of a 4 count. But I'm getting more consistent, and as all of us do, it's showing in the times we've been able to post. With the lineup changes we've had this week and our continual improvement in becoming technically more proficient rowers, I think we'll be able to get very, very close to the gold medal time standard by race day. We'll be getting a chance to test all the improvements we've made with our time trial on Thursday!
*Pterodactyl Training Center