Jenny Sichel – Paralympic Silver Medalist and Coach
Tom Siddall – Assistant Coach of Men’s Rowing, Tufts University
Ellen Minzner – Director of Para High Performance, USRowing
The 3-Sentence Summary
US Para-Rowing needs help from coaches across the country to build up the pipeline of eligible athletes for the Para-Rowing National Team. Moving forward, there will be two pathways for athletes to join: one for sliding-seat rowing (PR3) and one for fixed-seat rowing (PR1/PR2). Many PR3-eligible rowers will continue to come from high-school and collegiate programs, while USRowing will need to look more broadly to find and recruit athletes for PR1 and PR2 events.
0:23 Goal of today’s talk: create clarity around how to engage with para-rowing.
- Tom: US Para Rowing Coach Liaison
- Jenny: PR3 coxswain in Tokyo and PR1 W1x coach in Tokyo
- Silver medalist in Rio
- Goal: make PR1/PR2 rowing very competitive in the United States
4:12 We need help to move para-rowing forward. Our job is to make it easy to engage with us and the Paralympic Pipeline.
5:23 Changes since Rio:
- Para-rowing distance changed from 1k to 2k
- World Champs para-rowing added 4 events
- Paralympics para-rowing has added 1 event (PR3 Mx2x)
- US Para-Rowing has earned 8 medals: 7 in PR3 and 1 in PR1.
- PR3 athletes are generally sourced from the US high school and college system. We need to create a similar pipeline for fixed seat rowing.
Looking Ahead – Sliding-Seat Rowing
8:25 The PR3 pipeline will remain the same moving forward. However, we want to make sure collegiate and club coaches are aware of the para-rowing national team system, so they can refer athletes and have more interaction with the staff of the USRowing Para High Performance team. The involvement of your athlete in a Paralympic program should not interfere with your goals of a youth or collegiate championship.
Selection for PR3 will not interfere with the collegiate system for the foreseeable future.
Looking Ahead – Fixed-Seat Rowing
12:54 PR1 and PR2 pathways
- Developing opportunities for athletes to compete at the college level
- Club adaptive programs
- Indoor competitions
- Emphasize our multi-sport para events. Lots of crossover (rowing to canoe/kayak)
17:26 Sometimes PR1/PR2 athletes won’t have coaches, so we’ll do our best to connect them with resources in their local community for rowing.
17:59 Clubs looking to start para programs: multisport organizations can help you with the knowledge and potentially sourcing athletes.
18:54 We do also want to invite PR1/PR2 coaches to observe and coach at high-performance camps.
21:56 (Jenny) Fixed Seat (PR1/PR2) vs Sliding Seat (PR3): why 2 pathways?
|Fixed Seat (PR1, PR2)||Sliding Seat (PR3)|
|6 – 12 mos. to become competitive||2 – 4 years|
|Longer to optimize equipment, no cookie cutter solutions (2 – 4 months)||Minimal/straightforward customizations|
|More land time or balanced between land and water||More water time needed for team coordination|
|Numerous barriers to get to the boathouse and get in the boat||Athletes generally reach competitive standards without trouble|
28:39 Coaching considerations for PR1/PR2:
- How an athlete sets up for racing may not be the same as how they set up for training.
- It’s so easy to overtrain or further injure muscles.
- Mental health and comorbidities affect rowing consistency. You have to be aware of them.
- Athletes sometimes sweat less and are more prone to heat or cold. (Ask!)
- Push limits but don’t overstep–listen to the athlete and adapt with them.
38:14 (Tom) The Liaison Role
- Listens, helps, and advocates for the athletes without being involved in selection
- Runs the training program (Training Peaks)
- Tracking training zones and recovery (training/life balance)
- Manages physiology testing (lactate), strength training, etc.
- Look back at similar workouts for trends
43:45 Para Coach and Athlete Resources
- USRowing Para Newsletter (Quarterly, beginning in Jan 2022)
- Baseline Metrics Form
- Event Calendars
- PT Screening Protocol
- Para National Team Results Form
- National Team Training Plan
- Qualify for Direct Athlete Support (DAS)
49:26 Goals for 2024
- Increase para-knowledgeable coaches who can refer athletes into the pipeline.
- Create clear pathways for athletes and coaches to engage with us early in the athlete’s career.
- Identify athletes now with the potential to remain in the system through 2028.
- Increase the number of athletes competing in domestic events (PR1 and PR2 especially).
- Develop and improve systems of athlete metrics/data collection to guide our training.