Friday, November 30, 2007

The International Perspective

I had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland over Thanksgiving break and learn a bit about how the national team there operates. It's very different than ours--while the athletes train just as rigorously and measure themselves against the same international standards, the fact that there are so few rowers competing for positions on the team changes the priorities and focus of the program as a whole. There is not a women's team, for example, because there isn't a demand for it--the women who want to compete at an international level must do so in small boats and with their own coaches. The men's 8+ program became a focus after the 2004 Athens Games; this is the longest-lasting priority focus on the 8+ in the country's rowing history. However, the failure to qualify the 8+ through the Munich WRC's this summer means that the boat is up against two very strong crews from Australia and the Netherlands in the Poznan qualifier--and only one of the three will earn a spot. So the priority may become the 4-...

It was definitely eye-opening, also, to see the different style of team management. The Swiss Rowing Federation is much more like a professional sports team than USRowing, which in my opinion is run more like a university team. On our end, this means a generally more conservative approach in terms of coaching turnover and program focuses. For the Swiss, it means that the rowers have a bigger input into coaching and program decisions. Tradeoffs, I guess...

We are getting ready to head out to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, in just one more week. I'm excited to be training somewhere near home for the first time in almost five years! After hearing a good deal about life "on the compound", I'm looking forward to experiencing it for myself. It's also where selection will start taking place for all of our boats--the 8+, the 2-, the 4x, the 2x, and even the 1x, as Michelle will be joining in the fun.

I'll do my best to keep the workout log better updated and maybe add some photos to mix things up a bit. In the meantime--happy winter training!

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