Winter Training Update with Shannon Winchell

March 1, 2013

How do you row when the lake is frozen in Michigan? A common question posed to the rowers and coaches of the University of Michigan women's rowing team. As a third-year member of this team, I wish to answer this question for all who are curious to know what we Wolverines do during the winter to prepare for the fast-pace racing of spring season.

Luckily, here at the University of Michigan, we are fortunate enough to have facilities to continue our training during these cold winter months. As a native from California, I was nervous about coming to row at Michigan because I had never dealt with the cold winters that prevent rowers from practicing on the water. Now that I'm here, I have learned that snow and ice do not stop the Wolverines. For two months out of the year, Michigan rowers come indoors and work out on the ergometer.

During these few months the number of hours at practice decrease, the workout intensity increases, and the team spirit skyrockets. The passionate and powerful atmosphere is overwhelming when you walk up the stairs of the erg room. Approximately 80 ergs fit neatly into this room. Put a team of competitive athletes on the ergs, give them a workout, and amazing things happen.

While rowing is considered the ultimate team sport, during the winter months rowing becomes more individually focused. This year, the team has come up with a system that divides the rowers, both novice and varsity, into teams. These teams compete to win small prizes provided by our wonderful coxswains. This type of creativity is what makes rowing at Michigan so fun during the winter months. Just last Friday, we had a joint workout with the Michigan men's rowing team, and the atmosphere was animated and incredibly motivating. Our girls were taking huge chances and pulling some impressive splits. Workouts like this get the team really excited for spring racing season. There's no argument that the winter training is challenging, but the hard work, consistent positivity and relentless push of our squad is what makes us a dominant team in the spring.

That being said, just because the calendar says it's time for winter training, does not mean we are confined to the erg room until the snow melts. Last week, we were fortunate enough to row on our home lake! That's right everyone, here in Michigan in the middle of February, the rowing team is getting some quality time out on Belleville Lake!

Today we leave for spring training in sunny Tampa, Fla. We will spend nine days practicing, and we will finish the trip with a race against the University of Miami (Fla.).

The Michigan rowers are stronger, faster and ready to race thanks to a unified team effort towards making one another faster every day in the Michigan erg room.

Until next time,
Shannon Winchell