Over the long haul  –-in a head race, for instance–-  it’s your crew’s power-to-weight ratio that pushes the boat through the pack to the top of the standings.   More power moving less weight with each and every stroke means that your boat travels faster through the water, sustains its momentum, and saves energy for the final gasping sprint to the finish line.

That point was proven a few days ago by an athlete who may have one of the highest PtW ratios in Division I women’s rowing right now, as she led her crew to a school-best finish just seconds short (or is it long?) of an outright win in a 3-mile head race some readers may have vaguely heard of.  You know who you are.

It was an impressive achievement, maybe but not entirely surprising to those who’ve seen her row.  So it was a bit of a disappointment to hear the coach say “...if we were just a little bit faster maybe we could have finished first.

I know it was intended as motivational, to help the rowers realize how close they came to truly stunning glory, but the remark also can be interpreted (by sensitive souls) to contain an undercurrent of reproach –-implicitly suggesting that not everyone gave it their all every stroke of the way.   It’s one thing when rowers feel that way about their own performance (and they often do), because anyone who’s raced knows that there have been moments when concentration lapsed, when fatigue whispered seductively in the in-most ear, when anger born of agonizing pain diverted effort from the task at hand.  But …  that’s for you to know within yourself, and to guard against next time out, or for the coach to emphasize in the training room.  You don’t want to hear it in the media.  In front of your parents and friends.  Because that suggestion diminishes the achievement, and sours the sweet, sweet taste of unexpectedly coming oh-so-near.

But they will row harder next time out on the big stage.  And maybe they’ll even be faster, too.



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