The thought that Steve Redgrave, Mathew Pinsent, James Cracknell and many others have all done the same training; sweated in the same garage, had long rowing sessions on the same lake and walked up some of the same mountain paths means that this camp, above all others, is a rite of passage for any GB rower.
Our camp here is 2,030m above sea level meaning that some of the sessions can be particularly grueling – the lake here may be the highest 2k rowable stretch in Europe. Nonetheless, the views are spectacular; rumour has it that JRR Tolkien once stayed nearby and drew inspiration for his Misty Mountains from the way the clouds roll over the lake and the surrounding mountains, not that the views are what we concentrate on when we’re doing our fourth session of the day!
We stay here in Silvretta for two weeks. After which, we travel to Portugal for another two weeks in preparation for the World Rowing Championships in Linz in the last week of August. The World Championships are the final race of the 2019 season and because they are the year before the Olympic Games, they double up as the 2020 Olympic Qualification regatta. This means that not only are World medals up for grabs but also the opportunity to qualify your boat for the Olympic Games. Each boat class has a different number of slots available to qualify; on the ‘sweep’ side the eight has five, the four has eight, and the pair has eleven. This without doubt adds another side to the Regatta; everyone is not only racing to be crowned a World Champion, but to also make sure their boat can race at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The international rowing season is split into two. The first part is from May to the beginning of July, and encompasses three World Cup regattas series; the European Championships and Henley Royal Regatta. After the third World Cup regatta there is a break in international racing for five to six weeks before the second part of the season; the week-long World Championships at the end of August. We’ve now come to the end of the first part of the racing season with the third World Cup last weekend, leaving us with two training camps to prepare for the all-important World Championships.
My last blog post covered the beginning of our international season and winning the European Championships in Switzerland. It was awesome to get the win – the first GB men’s win of this Olympiad – but we knew it was just the beginning of the season. Since then we have raced the second World Cup regatta, in Poznan, Poland, Henley Royal Regatta and the third World Cup in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It has been a really encouraging World Cup campaign but also one where we have had to learn some hard lessons.