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Rowing to victory
With one of the most prestigious events in the UK's rowing calendar taking place this week, hundreds of athletes are enduring training regimes that would make Green Berets cringe. BBC Berkshire went to meet one of these rowers to find out more.
Ever wondered what goes through the mind of a rower just before the umpire fires their starter gun? Or exactly how much training they endure to be race fit?
Will Jordan is an amateur rower, but there's nothing non-professional about his gruelling training schedule or commitment towards the sport. In the lead up to races it's not unheard of for him to have between six and ten individual training sessions in one week.
Early starts are something he regularly courts, as many of his training sessions require a 5.30am meet at the river banks in Caversham.
All this, sandwiched between a demanding full time job and the chaotic social life of an average twenty-something year old.
When it comes to rowing Will is an old hand, having been a very adept oarsman in his formative years.
As a schoolboy he regularly took part in races over distances most adults would fear cycling yet alone rowing.
Now, with Henley just days away, Will's training schedule has escalated to Olympiad proportions. He'll be taking part in the club coxed four, otherwise known as the Britannia Challenge Cup at this year's Henley Regatta.
"The races are fast and furious. It goes from sitting completely still to absolutely flat out rowing.
"Everything seems to speed up from your thoughts to your actions," says Will.
He also explains the art of preparation. Being mentally and physically in tune with your fellow sportsmen and the cox is equally as important.
"You just try and row as desperately as you can and push as hard you can.
"While keeping an eye on the opposition. Listening to what the cox has to say.
"He'll be reminding us of the technical points we need to watch. Usually trying to make us do a big push and move further away from our opponents or overtake them".
These pep talks take place at key stages during the race. The athletes know they're coming but not precisely when, meaning they are in a constant state of mental preparation.
"It's incredibly important to prepare for the big wind up near the finish.
"Speeding up the amount of strokes you make a minute. Ready for the big push to the race line".
Though not every boat has a cox, many do. They serve two purposes, to steer the boat and to stir up the crew's motivational levels.
The trademark of a good cox is their ability to say the right things at the right time.
"It's almost like having an onboard coach. He can read the race a lot better than when you're flat out rowing. Coxes can be key to any race," adds Will.
The competitions are physically draining and can leave the rower feeling totally shattered.
"You can find yourself coughing and sneezing for the rest of the day. If you've won you won't feel it as much.
"If you've lost, the adrenaline keeps you going and you don't realise how tired you are until you get home".
And if you think there's time for recuperation, then think again. After a good night's sleep, many of these athletes resume their hectic training schedules ahead of their next big race.
last updated: 01/07/2008 at 18:56