April 26, 2012

Getting Physical at the Devon Boathouse

Rowers at the OKC National High Performance Center were run through a series of physical assessments this week to indentify their strengths and weaknesses as they head into the next phase of training.

The assessment, developed by OKCNHPC Strength Coach Jason Miller, focused on flexibility, trunk mobility, and lower body performance. Jason is the Assistant Professor / Department Chair for the Department of Kinesiology and Exercise Studies at Oklahoma City University.


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Rowers "Thunder Up" in OKC

OKC National High Performance Center rowers were stationed at the Mobile Boathouse at Thunder Alley on Tuesday prior to the Oklahoma City Thunder game versus the Sacramento Kings. The Oklahoma River Experience Mobile Boathouse is a mobile interactive exhibit which show cases the incredible plans and develops on the river.





The rowers greeted Thunder fans and introduced them to the sport of rowing and the programs and events taking place at the Oklahoma River.

The Thunder went on to beat the Kings 118 to 110.

April 18, 2012

Guest Blogger: Jason Beagle - My Journey to the Paralympics

Jason Beagle, a High Performance athlete in OKC, sheds some light on his start in the sport of rowing and his current efforts in making the 2012 Paralympic Games Team...


I joined DC Strokes Rowing Club in 2007 to meet people and hopefully find a boyfriend. Instead, I fell in love with rowing. I never considered myself disabled. What’s a little paralysis? After my car accident in 1994, I learned to adapt and live with it. Rowing was added to the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. With a lot of encouragement from DCSRC Coach Patrick Johnson, I joined Capital Adaptive to see what it was like to row with other rowers with disabilities. I’m classified as an adaptive rower with functional use of my legs, trunk and arms — LTA. 

At the start of 2011, I received an email from USRowing Coach Karen Lewis asking me to submit erg scores for consideration for the national team in the LTA mixed 4+ event. So, with Coach Patrick, I pounded out my first erg scores for submission to USRowing. We then went to the CRASH-B Indoor Rowing Championships. Upon my return from Boston, I received an e mail from Coach Karen inviting me to a development camp at the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center. I went to the camp and upon its conclusion was invited to Selection Camp in Charlottesville, VA in June, 2011.

Jason Beagle
With only ten weeks to prepare for selection camp, I worked with DC Strokes and Capital Adaptive to create a training plan on par with the high performance rowers training in Oklahoma. I rowed four hours a day for ten weeks while working 45 hours a week.

I went to camp, lost my seat race and left discouraged. Thankfully, I kept racing with DC Strokes. My teammates have no idea how much they helped me overcome disappointment and recommit to making the team in 2012. I also rowed in adaptive sprint races at the Quaker City Regatta, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta and the Bayada Regatta.

In early July, I received an e mail from Coach Karen asking me to consider moving to Oklahoma City. I pondered it for several weeks. I returned to Oklahoma City with DCSRC for US Master’s National Championships and it felt right. I told my friends about my invitation. Over the course the fall season, with inspiration from my coaches, I realized I had to go for it. My life and career were headed in the wrong direction.

Rowing had become the only thing that brought joy and happiness to my life. I had to see where it would lead. In October, 2011, I was stroke at the Head of the Charles Regatta and Capital Adaptive successfully defended its course record in the LTA 4+ event set in 2010. In early November, I officially applied for residency at the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center and was accepted. 

The point of no return came on December 15, 2011 when I quit my job. It was hard to say goodbye but I did. Jump and the net will appear.  On January 1, 2012, I packed up my car and left Washington, D.C.  I arrived in Oklahoma City on January 2.

I am now in residence with 25 High Performance rowers at the OKC-NHPC. I am currently training twice daily, six days a week, averaging 24 km a day.  Those of us, who can, squeeze in work around our rigorous training schedule. Team USA finished 6th in the LTA 4+ at the 2011 World Championships in Bled, Slovenia, eleven seconds behind Great Britain. The boat was prequalified for the Paralympic Games in London. Selection will be May 28-June 10 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  All of my efforts are focused on winning my seat race and winning the gold medal for the USA in London.

My training in Oklahoma is overseen by Coach Matt Muffelman. Matt competed in World Rowing Championships from 2005-2010. Bryan Volpenhein, stroke from the 2004 Olympic gold medal winning men’s heavyweight 8+, is the head coach. Jeremy Ivey is the assistant coach and has many small boats qualified in upcoming international regattas. Under their tutelage, I strive to get faster.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that at 37, I am an old fart compared to the other high performance rowers.  Most of the time, I feel this is a huge plus.  My theatre background taught me the reality of being in a performance based environment.  There are no entitlements.  I must earn everything.  There is always someone smarter, stronger, faster, wiser, and cuter.  Once I accepted that, I could let go and just focus on my performance.  I happen to believe that the future I am living into determines who I am today.  I am working to develop mastery because of what lies ahead, not because of the past.

Living and training at the National High Performance Center is a life altering experience.  The focus is physical performance on the water but I cannot ignore the mental shifts that come from this experience.  In order for me to be a champion I must think like one.  I also have to be myself and to allow myself to be molded by the work I am doing at the NHPC.  

A typical day starts at 7 a.m.  My first weeks were spent in the double with Andrew Johnson, an adaptive rower from the 2011 National Team. Coach Muff’s focus was correcting my drive. We focused on push-swing to maximize the power in my legs and connection to the boat. We were joined in February by Emma Preuschl also from the 2011 World Championship boat. Our training focus shifted to volume.  Our goal by the end of February was to qualify for invitations to Selection Camp by meeting the erg standards set by Coach Karen and USRowing.  For men, the standard for 1000 meters is 3:20.0 (min:sec).  Women must row 3:45.0 to qualify.

As the winter progressed, my splits started dropping. On February 25, I pulled a 3:16.8.  I received a verbal invitation to camp on Sunday, February 27.  That was a PR (personal record) for me.  Now the thing about a PR is it lives in the moment in which you set it. After that, it lives in the past.  I posted it to Facebook and enjoyed my glory for a brief moment.  I then set my sights on 3:03.7.  This world record was set by US National Team member, Eric McDaniel at the 2012 CRASH-Bs on Sunday, February 19, 2012.  Is it possible to drop 13 seconds?  Yes, one stroke at a time.

In March, I spent a lot of time in the high propulsion tank breaking down the stroke and using mirrors for instantaneous feedback. Let’s face it, my front end connection (catch) sucks.  I battle this demon constantly. On March 23, we had another erg test.  This time I pulled a 3:14.8.  I was two seconds faster and 5.2 seconds under my standard.  As I finished the test, I didn’t feel right.  My legs were shaking and my back was sore.  When I stood up I could barely walk.  Being done for the day, I gathered my things and left the locker room.  As I got to the stairs, I clutched the railing with both hands.  Pain was radiating from my back all the way down my legs.  I had thrown out my back. I would not row for two weeks. 

Whenever I injure my back it is around the 3rd lumbar vertebra which is just above my spinal fusion.  What I learned from the experience was to seek treatment for an injury immediately.  Secondly, and most importantly, is the importance of core strength.  I always thought of the rowing stroke as legs then back.  In reality, it is legs then abs.  The power of the drive created by the legs is transfers through my body to the core and into the arms.  My goal is to have kayaker abs!

I got back in a boat on Monday, April 9.  We rowed the maiden voyage of our brand new Hudson 4+ that Thursday.  I climbed aboard the erg on Friday. This was my first time getting back on the horse after the fall.  I started out tentative.  By the last seven minute piece, I was pas pulling 1:35.0 splits.  It was a mental victory over fear.

Last week, I also learned to row the pair.  I love this boat!  Low and behold, by some miracle, I learned to feel my connection to the boat and the water.  My catches don’t suck anymore! Well, at least not all the time. I intend to build muscle memory this week.  I am looking forward to applying what I’ve learned to the 4+ over the next 6 weeks leading up to selection.

April 12, 2012

Finals Wrap-up at National Selection Regatta 2 and Non-Qualified Olympic Trials

Racing at Otay Lake in Chula Vista, CA wrapped up this morning with finals for OKC athletes in the Men's Double and Lightweight Women's Double.

In the men’s double sculls, OKC's Ryan Shelton and Martin Etem got off to a solid start. Off the line the Penn Athletic Club and Potomac Boat Club composite entry of Willie Cowles and Stephen Whelpley set the tone and jumped ahead, with the USRowing Training Center-Chula Vista entry of Warren Anderson and Sam Stitt going after them.

All four crews stayed in a tight pack through to the 1,000-meter mark until Anderson and Stitt poured on the heat and started inching ahead. Coming to the finish, the Chula Vista boat drove even harder and made sure that they earned the right to go to the Olympic Qualifier, winning in a time of 6:16.695, followed by Cowles and Whelpley in 6:21.975. Finishing third was the Craftsbury Sculling Center crew of brothers Peter Graves and Thomas Graves in 6:23.527. Shelton and Etem finished 4th in 6:31.9.

Following today's racing, Shelton and Etem will remain in Chula Vista for the opportunity to join the group of scullers in contention for the Olympic Men's Quadruple Sculls.

In the Men's Double Final B, Oklahoma City's Pat Close and Max Goff finished fourth in 6:36.9.

In all of the Non-Qualified Olympic Small Boats Trials events, the winning crews have earned the right to compete at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May and attempt to qualify the boats for London.

The final event of the morning, the lightweight women’s double was a six boat final, but one crew, California Rowing Club’s Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom, made it their own, pushing out of a tight pack in the first 500 meters to open up a lead they would not give back. They finished first in 7:08.002, followed by the Lake Union Boat Club’s entry of Ursula Grobler and Hillary Saeger who crossed next in 7:12.032 followed by the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center entry of Chelsea Smith and Michelle Sechser who finished in a time of 7:14.562. Sechser and Smith stormed back from 5th place at the halfway point to overtake Pocock's Katherine Robinson and Lindsay Hochman, bronze medallists in the women's lightweight quad at the 2011 World Rowing Championships.

Nichols and Hedstrom have earned the opportunity to go to Europe for the first two world cup stops. If that crew finishes in the top four, it will be named to the team. If it does not, the boat class will be included in the 2012 Olympic Trials – Rowing scheduled for June 11-14 in West Windsor, N.J.

April 11, 2012

Shelton, Etem Lead Charge into Finals for OKC

In rainy conditions with varying wind, the crews for tomorrow’s finals were decided on Otay Lake in Chula Vista for National Selection Regatta 2 and Non-Qualified Small Boat Olympic Trials.
In the men’s double sculls, the Penn Athletic Club / Potomac Boat Club composite entry of Willie Cowles and Stephen Whelpley advanced with a winning time of 6:31.584, followed by the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center entry of Ryan Shelton and Martin Etem with a time of 6:33.470. OKC's Pat Close and Max Goff finished in fourth and will race in tomorrow's B final.
Close and Goff
The second heat of the men’s double saw the USRowing Training Center-Chula Vista entry of Warren Anderson and Sam Stitt advance with a winning time of 6:26.153, followed in second by Craftsbury Sculling Center’s brothers Peter Graves and Thomas Graves in 6:28.682.

Shelton and Etem will race in the A Final of the Men's Double tomorrow morning at 9:10 AM.

In the lightweight women’s double sculls, Lake Union Boat Club’s entry of Ursula Grobler and Hillary Saeger won its semifinal in a time of 7:18.852. Finishing second was Pocock Rowing Center’s Katherine Robinson and Lindsey Hochman in a time of 7:21.153, followed in third by the composite entry from Vesper Boat Club / Penn Athletic Club of Jennifer Goldsack and Jennette Daley in 7:25.205.

In the second semifinal of the event, California Rowing Club’s entry of Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom won in a time of 7:23.532. In second was USRowing Training Center-Oklahoma City's entry of Chelsea Smith and Michelle Sechser in 7:33.693. The final boat to qualify was the Long Beach Rowing Association crew of Sherri Kline and Rachel Stortvedt.

Smith and Sechser
Sechser and Smith will race in the A Final of the Lightweight Women's Double at 9:40 AM PST.

April 10, 2012

Stayin' Alive at Olympic Trials: Close and Goff Advance to Semi Finals

The final spots for tomorrow morning’s scheduled Non-Qualified Olympic Trial semifinals were decided this afternoon on Lower Otay Reservoir.

In three events, repechages were run in the women’s single sculls, the lightweight men’s double and the men’s double sculls.

Two flights of men’s double sculls began with Oklahoma City’s entry of Pat Close and Max Goff advancing to the semi finals with a time of 7:12.798. Close and Goff battled through rough evening conditions to finish ahead of second place California Rowing Club and third place Vesper Boat Club.
Close and Goff
The duo will join teammates Ryan Shelton and Martin Etem, who advanced to semi final A by finishing 2nd in Heat 3 this morning. Both OKC crews will take on the Penn AC / Potomac Boat Club (William Cowles and Stephen Whelpley) and Seattle RC / All American (John Greer and Jim Dietz) with two crews advancing to Final A.

Semi final will take place at 9:20 AM PST tomorrow morning.

Racing to London: Morning Update

Racing for a chance to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games in London began today in Chula Vista, California.

Smith and Sechser
Competing in National Selection Regatta II are 10 lightweight women’s double sculls crews, with the winner earning the opportunity to go to Europe for the first two world cup stops. If that crew finishes in the top four, it will be named to the team. If it does not, the boat class will be included in the 2012 Olympic Trials – Rowing scheduled for June 11-14 in West Windsor, N.J.

In the Non-Qualified Olympic Small Boats Trials, racing was featured in the women’s single sculls, women’s double sculls, lightweight men’s double sculls and men’s double sculls. The winning crews in those events will earn the right to compete at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May and attempt to qualify the boats for London.

The first event of the morning session was a time trial for the lightweight women’s double sculls.

Crossing with the best time was the Lake Union Crew entry of Ursula Grobler and Hillary Saeger with a time of 6:52.767, followed by Oklahoma City's entry of Chelsea Smith and Michelle Sechser in 6:54.185. Finishing with the third best time of the trial was California Rowing Club’s entry of Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom.

In the heats of the men’s double sculls, the Penn Athletic Club/Potomac Boat Club composite entry of William Cowles and Stephen Whelpley finished first in heat 1 in a time of 6:29.343, while Oklahoma City's Pat Close and Max Goff finished 3rd in 6:43.7. In heat 2, USTC - Chula Vista’s Elliot Hovey and Alex Osborne finished first in 6:36.727. In the third heat, USRowing Training Center - Chula Vista entry of Warren Anderson and Sam Stitt finished first in 6:29.019, followed by Oklahoma City's Ryan Shelton and Martin Etem in a time of 6:32.4. Shelton and Etem advance to tomorrow's semi finals while Goff and Close will head to the Men's Double repechage tonight at 6:00 PM PST. 

April 09, 2012

OKC Doubles Head to NSR 2 / Non-Qualified Olympic Trials

The next step on the road to London will begin tomorrow at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Three separate USRowing selection events are scheduled for April 10-12, including National Selection Regatta II, Non-Qualified Small Boat Olympic Trials and 2012 Paralympic Trials – Rowing.

In all, five events will be contested – four of them in non-qualified events, including the women single sculls, men’s and women’s double sculls and lightweight men’s double sculls.

In the qualified event, the lightweight women’s double sculls, 10 crews will compete for the opportunity to go to Europe for the first two world cup stops. If that crew finishes in the top four, it will be named to the team. If it does not, the boat class will be included in the 2012 Olympic Trials – Rowing scheduled for June 11-14 in West Windsor, N.J.

Among those competing in the event will be California Rowing Club’s entry of Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom, Lake Union Crew’s Ursula Grobler and Hillary Saeger , the Vesper Boat Club/Penn Athletic Club composite entry of Jennifer Goldsack and Jennette Daley, Oklahoma City's entry of Chelsea Smith and Michelle Sechser and Pocock Rowing Center’s Katherine Robinson and Lindsey Hochman.

Nichols and Hedstrom finished fourth in the event at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Slovenia and won the overall World Rowing Cup points trophy last summer. Smith and Sechser teamed up at the 2011 Pan American Games to win a bronze medal in the event.
Smith and Sechser
In the non-qualified events, the winning crews will earn the right to compete at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May and attempt to qualify the boats for London. If any fail to qualify, then the United States will not have entries in those events at the Olympic Games.
The men’s double sculls is the largest subscribed event with 11 crews competing, including two from the USRowing Training Center – Chula Vista and two from the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center. Entered in the Chula Vista boats are Elliot Hovey and Alex Osborne, as well as Warren Anderson and Wes Piermarini. Entered in the OKC boats are Ryan Shelton and Martin Etem along with Pat Close and Max Goff.

Hovey and Piermarini finished 13th in the event at the 2008 Olympic Games and were members of the men’s quad that finished eighth at the 2010 World Rowing Championships. Anderson, a Beijing alternate, returns after a second-place finish in the men’s single at NSR I last month.

In the lightweight men’s double sculls, 10 crews will row for a shot at the Olympic qualifier, including Oklahoma City’s Austin Meyer with GMS' Jon Winter.

Racing begins April 10 at 9:00 a.m. PDT with time trials in the lightweight women’s double. USRowing will live stream A and B finals for this event online at http://www.ustream.tv/usrowing beginning 9:00 a.m. PDT on April 12.

Race schedule and results will be available at www.usrowing.org.

Pan Am Games bronze medallist, Michelle Sechser, gives an update from NSR 2

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Oklahoma City's Michelle Sechser is preparing to compete in the Lightweight Women's Double Sculls with partner, Chelsea Smith, at National Selection Regatta #2 in Chula Vista, CA. Racing begins tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM PST.

OKC National High Performance Center TV

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