Blog: Positive vibes while working towards the European Championships 2020

By Maartje Damen, member of the Dutch Women’s Eight rowing team, July 21, 2020.

In a series of blogs, the Dutch Women’s Eight rowers share their thoughts about their road to the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, Tokyo 2020 officially has been postponed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, new dates for the Games have been set on 23 July to 8 August 2021.

‘Many rowing tournaments have been cancelled this year, so the last couple of months came available to train and prepare for the future. A whole year extra of putting everything aside to focus on this one goal, the Tokyo Olympic Games, asks a lot from all crew members. Fellow rower Hermijntje already wrote about that in her blog. But when it comes to the team, on the contrary, this postponement of the Olympics might be beneficial. We are a relatively inexperienced and young crew, the extra time will give us extra opportunity to learn and grow. To make sure this happens, we fill in our time optimising our technique, strength, team spirit and the formation of the rowers in the boat. Along the way, we try and generate as much experience as we can. One of these experiences would be racing, and how better to get this than to start one?’.

Selections for the eight

‘We are now in the middle of the selection process for the European Rowing Championships (ERCH). This is the only international race on our calendar that has not yet been cancelled or postponed. The final decision on whether it will take place or not will be made at the end of July, but for now we cherish the positive expectation that the race will continue and that we can participate. For this, we must be the fastest eight we can possibly be.’

‘In rowing, it is of high importance that every rower is placed at the right position in a boat. Just like in any other team sport, each team member has a place that suits him best. We are now in the middle of the process to determine on which position our team members will be sitting to form the fastest crew.’

‘The first few weeks after the Corona home-training period, to minimise contact we were only allowed to row in a pair with the person in the team that is closest to you. We all instantly started getting competitive again, having little competitions twice a week, finally being able to exercise together. From here on, we were able to take place in a boat with more people. First, we started with two four person boats, where we had to form different combinations and compete against each other. Luckily, after some weeks we were allowed back racing in the eight! These races go as following: we row a given distance, afterwards two people change places and then we row the same distance for a second time. Both races are measured and recorded, and the coach analyses these outcomes and includes this data in the decision-making process for the final formation of eight rowers in the boat.’

A welcome summer break

‘When we know what the formation for the European Rowing Championships will be, a different training period starts. But before this, because it is mid-summer and the training period is so much longer than usual, our coaches decided that we should receive two weeks ‘off’. A welcome period, in which we get the chance to relax and stay fit by doing other sports, at other places and with other people. For me this will be visiting my family, to cycle and just have fun together. In this way you are training at places that give you the comfort of a holiday. A short break that will give us the energy and motivation boost to get through the upcoming training period.’

Back to training

‘During our home-training period, it will be decided whether the European Rowing Championships will continue. This all depends on the developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in all participating countries. If the championships continue, we will all be back at the training centre after two weeks of “vacation”, energised and motivated to train with full dedication. Not only to fully focus on the European Rowing Championships, but also on our major goal as well: qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021!’