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Field Notes Week 2 - PE Rowing Class

Julie Mazz's picture

As a member of the rowing team here at Bryn Mawr, we're encouraged to enroll in the PE Rowing Class that an instructor, Harriet, offers at the start of the spring semester. We don't officially start our season until the second week of February (per NCAA rules), so the class is a good way to get in shape for the actual season. While many of my classmates are also my teammates, everyone else in the class is entirely new to rowing, so the first few days are spent learning the rowing stroke on the ergometer. 

These notes are from the second class on Tuesday. In this case, I can't really say I'm learning how to row in the class  - hopefully I know how pretty well after eight straight years of it - but instead I'm learning how to observe the instruction and withhold my own critiques for the other students while still leading my team as the captain. 

7:00am - Class starts

- People milling around in the multi-purpose room

- Harriet takes attendance and instructs Joanna, my co-captain, to run everyone through a 10-minute warmup while she quickly runs to her office

- Joanna tells us to do a 3-2-1 warmup, with increasing pressure. Because she's standing next to me, I correct her and say that the new students have no idea what that means, so she clarifies that it's 3 minutes at an easy pressure, then 2 minutes with more pressure, and a final minute with more. 

- She seemed a bit embarassed that I said that, so I felt bad about pointing it out in front of everyone, but they would have been far more confused if I hadn't

- After the warm-up, Harriet has everyone gather around her on the erg for a technique demonstration. The older rowers (Sophmores, Juniors and Seniors) stay back so the Freshmen and classmates can see better

- We go back to our ergs and Harriet has the experienced rowers show the new ones how to set up the ergs for an interval workout, 2 minutes of work with 1 minute of rest

- I help the girl next to me, and show her a trick for setting the monitor and playing around with the display so the screen doesn't go off while we wait for everyone else to get ready. 

- We're told to do the first piece at rate 20, which means you take 20 strokes in a minute. I'm not sure whether the new people understand that. It seems like we're going too fast with the terms and the technique for them to properly learn how to row

- The girl next to me wasn't here on the first day, so she needs help with her technique, but does her best to copy the movements of everyone around her. I debate helping her during our next rest period, or waiting to see if Joanna or Harriet will help her during the piece.

- Joanna walks by us, and I can tell she's debating whether to say something. My guess is she doesn't try because the ergs are too close together and she would get in the way by trying to help. 

- My instinct here is to help...but at the same time I'm another student in the class and I'm supposed to being rowing, not instructing. And while I do have more experience, it can be embarassing to get instruction or corrections from a peer

- Joanna and Harriet continue to walk by without saying anything

- After completing eight interval pieces, Harriet runs through stretches with the group.

- Everyone starts to put their ergs away, and I notice the new classmates are already much better at rolling them away (It's harder than it looks!) after a day

- We're dismissed for the day

Overall, it's hard for me to watch other people row without trying to help or correct their technique. While my stroke still isn't perfect, I've gained enough knowledge to properly instruct people. I prefer to have control over a sitution, and while that helps in my leadership role as a captain, I need to know when to stay quiet while other people are leading.