Women’s Rowing Begins Off the Water Training


Courtesy of @novarowing Instagram

Women’s Rowing Begins Off the Water Training

Madison Burke

The Villanova women’s rowing team typically practices and competes in both the fall and spring seasons. However, due to COVID-19, fall competitions have been postponed, and the team is unable to practice on the water. The cancelled fall season leaves them with one option: land practices on the ergometer, or erg. 

An erg is a rowing machine, found in most gyms, that simulates the same motion used when rowing a boat. A treadmill is to running as an erg is to rowing; both are monotonous and cardiovascular-dependent. Nevertheless, it is the best way to get into  rowing shape without being in boats. Athletes other than rowers use ergs for a few minutes because they are a wonderful training tool. However, the rowing team is on the machine for one to two hours a day, rather than just a few minutes. 

Rowing programs around the country are struggling with training plans due to the inability to get in a boat. Most teams will be staying on land until getting the all-clear from their athletic departments, considering social distancing is difficult in a boat with nine athletes stuck at arms distance from eachother. 

The University is no different; the team has implemented strict policies and uses training pods to keep athletes and coaches safe while on the erg. 

Training pods are made of three to four athletes. All pods must socially distance from one another since erging is a stationary activity. Workout and practice times vary each day to limit the number of athletes training at once and to allow the coaches to stay socially distanced from the group. 

This is a particularly strange set up for the rowing team because, usually, athletes are close together, in sync with each other and occasionally cheering one another on. A coxswain, whose main job is to give calls to rowers, is now six feet away but still trying to hype up the team. 

Many sports teams and professional athletes are adjusting to new COVID-19 regulations, and that means finding new ways to keep motivated in these distanced times. For the University rowing team, like professional athletes around the world, Zoom meetings are a difficult adjustment when a team is used to seeing each other in person everyday.

Although facing similar struggles, college athletes do not have the same resources as professional competitors. Student athletes cannot go into a bubble and practice without masks with their teammates. Collegiate athletes are on campus with thousands of other young students who are all looking to continue their education and undergraduate experience in the best way possible during these restricted times.  

We have seen with plenty of other universities that the struggles of returning to school in the midst of a global pandemic is immensely dangerous. As of right now, the University’s dedication to The CARITAS Commitment has been successful and hopefully will allow for the semester to continue on campus through November. Student-athletes can hope that their sport will resume in the spring.

All athletes at the University are hoping to return to campus and move forward with a somewhat normal spring season. The rowing team will continue to workout on land, but athletes have their fingers crossed in hopes of returning to the Schuylkill River to practice for a possible race soon.