RowPerfect Shop subscribe to newsletter

Dear customers, thank you for being loyal to Rowperfect. Unfortunately we closed our shop, we can't accept any new orders.
Our blog will still be running, feel free to check it out!

Data in Rowing interview with Rebecca Caroe

Alan Oldham is the journalist commissioned to write an article by Rowing News on data in rowing called … read more

Share this Post


Alan Oldham is the journalist commissioned to write an article by Rowing News on data in rowing called Data Driven – he approached me to contribute to his article back in April. And myr views didn’t line up with his expectations.

Rowing News logo

Basic Rowing Data Education

He was very keen to talk about the leading edge rowing innovations and as we spoke, I realised that the value I could add to his perspective was to point out that most rowers are not interested in these things.  A far more basic approach to data in rowing is needed as I know that many people do niot even track very simple datapoints.

When I rang Rebecca Caroe, rowing polymath and owner of the rowing company and website, I asked her about which new technologies were having the biggest impact in our sport. I had anticipated a standard sort of answer that would confirm my initial conclusion. Caroe, after all, as host of the site’s podcast “RowingChat,” has interviewed dozens of experts and innovators in our sport from around the world, and is as up-to-date as it comes in terms of knowing what is out there making a difference in rowing.

“There are two things that are having a really big impact,” she tells me. “One is the ability to speak to each other, to communicate through a lot of different media. The second is using data as an additional layer of both input and output in the coaching process.”

But when I ask about new innovative advances such as NK’s EmPower Oarlock, it is clear that she is thinking about trends in change on a far broader scale. “[Things like] the EmPower oarlock are so leading edge that they are having almost no impact across the sport as a whole [yet]. If you are talking adoption curve, it is really exciting for the 1 or 2 percent, for the rowing geeks, but they are in a massive minority.”

Innovation Takes Time

Alan fluently summarises my point about using data for rowing improvement in to Level 1 and Level 2.  The number of “Rowing Data Geeks” who are at about Level 5 is very small indeed.

Caroe provides a bit of perspective on this discrepancy between the minority of early adopters and the rest of us. “Let’s talk about data as a tool that we are using,” she suggests. “There are a lot of different numbers that you can collect in rowing, but let’s just talk really basic stuff: strokes per minute, 500-meter splits, those two would be level 1. Level 2 might be distance moved per stroke, watts produced, and heart rate.”

“Stroke rate and splits everyone pretty much understands,” she continues, noting that the familiarity is strengthened by exposure to these on the rowing machine. Despite a clear understanding of the measurement, Caroe believes that many people still do not use 500-meter splits in on-water training. “Looking back to the adoption curve, these basic measurements are only now hitting the mass majority.”

“When we talk about distance per stroke, watts, and in many cases heart rate, these are still in the early stages in rowing,” she says. “If you are in a high-performance program, your coach may have you row on the ergometer with watts displayed, but when you look at club programs or high schools, these people have not yet incorporated watts into their practices.”

“Innovation in rowing,” Caroe proposes, “happens very, very slowly, and then happens all at once.” She points to something as simple as electronic amplification systems in the boat. “These took a very long time to get adopted, and even today there are only three international brands that sell these products.”

For the record, I’ve never been called a polymath before.  But I will remember this day!

Read the full Data Driven article on Rowing News. And tell us what data you use in your rowing group or programme in the comments below.

About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

One thought on “Data in Rowing interview with Rebecca Caroe

  1. Rowing and sculling are for fun! The objective should be to get lots of people with a safe basic style: the keen ones will be easily identified but it is the rest that pay their subs and keep the clubs going.

    It is easy to get a coach for a promising crew, but much more difficult to get a coach for a learner group.

Leave a Reply

Blog Related Posts

The rowing stroke “sweet spot” for head racing

Sander Roosendaal is on a mission to find the optimal pace for his single scull when doing head… read more

Interview with Carlos Dinares: coach to Ursula Grobler WLwt 1x

Following Ursula Grobler’s amazing Head of the Charles win and her World Record on the ergo, we contacted… read more

Prygl Rowing Camps for rowing technique

Are you a Masters rower who wants to boost his technique under the guidance of world class coaches?… read more

RowPerfect Shop subscribe to newsletter
Open chat
Questions, put an order, suggestions?
Hello, welcome to Rowperfect UK! How can we help you?