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Scottish Rowing Performance Programme: Rowing in a Pandemic 

Posted: 14 May 2021

Whilst Scotland’s leading rowers on the GB Rowing Team prepare for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics this summer, closer to home the next generation of talented athletes have been training hard towards their own long-term goals as part of the Scottish Rowing Performance Programme.

Since October, the twelve athletes who make up this season’s Scottish Rowing Performance Programme contingent have been training in person, as per Scottish Government rules allowing for the continuation of performance and professional sport.  Under this special dispensation, the athletes have been able to travel to and from training and have had access to indoor and outdoor facilities at approved venues.

As Scottish Rowing’s Head of Performance Pathway, Lee Boucher explains, the dispensation for performance and professional sport has been crucial to support the continued progression and wellbeing of these rowers.

“We are really grateful to the Scottish Government and sportscotland for enabling our performance programme athletes to continue training throughout the lockdown period,” said Boucher.

This has been made possible by the additional mitigation measures introduced in our training environments and the high standards maintained by athletes, coaches and everyone involved in the programme.

“I have been really impressed with the resilience and commitment shown by our athletes, coaches and support staff through the pandemic.  With the uncertain outlook throughout this period, it would have been easy to take your eye off the ball and lose focus however what we have seen in practice has generally been quite the opposite with encouraging scores in training and significant progress across key technical and physical markers.

Working with club programmes and coaches across Scotland, the Scottish Rowing Performance Programme aims to supplement and enhance the local offerproviding sport specific expertise and advice as well as adding value in areas such as physical preparation, physiotherapy, physiology, performance lifestyle and nutrition.

In October, Scottish Rowing secured a new arrangement with the sportscotland institute of sport for in-situ practitioner support at the Scottish Rowing Centre, meaning that athletes in the region no longer need to travel to an Institute facility for their strength and conditioning sessions and they can now complete all their land-based training under one roof.

“The Scottish Rowing Centre has played a pivotal role at the core of much of our training activities this season and the addition of the Institute practitioners delivering support services on-site has been a real game changer,” added Boucher.

Having our own world class facility has allowed us to bring together athletes and coaches from different club programmes, helping to support the ‘Team Scotland’ approach which facilitates shared learning opportunities and an additional support network.

At the start of January the athletes took part in a 10-day training camp at the Scottish Rowing Centre, benefiting from these new arrangements. This was made possible through additional testing in the lead up to the camp and the ability to maintain a COVID secure environment at the Scottish Rowing Centre with enhanced hygiene standards.

Despite the challenges of living through this period the Scottish Rowing Performance Programme athletes have responded well to the circumstances, evidenced by many personal bests being achieved over the last year.  This is just one of several unexpected bonuses that have emerged from training in such unusual, often testing, circumstances.  Other positives include athletes’ growing independence, helping them to shape their own programmes and better shape their training according to their individual needs.

The overriding message to be taken from the experience of rowing in a pandemic has been the morale and self-determination of the athletes. With no competitions to monitor progress, motivation has come from individuals on the Programme, and this bodes well for the future of the athletes who have lived and trained through such unique circumstances.

Scottish Rowing Performance Programme Athletes, 2020-21 Season

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After a break of more than 18 monthsthis month sees the return of the trials process for athletes seeking selection to Great Britain under 23 and senior non-Olympic teams this summer.

There are many reasons for the Scottish contingent to be optimistic - the emergence of Lucy Glover since the start of the year as a key member of the Olympic women’s sculling team and a win for Jack Burns in the men’s single scull at the recent Closed Trials at Dorney are just two.

In the lead up to the GB Rowing Team Senior and Under 23 Open Trials at Caversham on 22-23 May we will be introducing you to this season’s supported athletes and going behind the scenes with the Scottish Rowing Performance ProgrammeFollow our social media channels for more information by searching @ScottishRowing on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.