Following our blog post about Lightweight rowing we got this reply from a reader.
I would like to take this opportunity (once again) to say VASRA has a Rowing Weight Control Program (since 2006) that is designed specifically to address the issues mentioned by Rebecca Caroe (and some of the commenters to her posting). The RWCP is it is administered by the individual team school Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), managed by the team coach(es), and monitored by VASRA at its regattas. Yes, we have an advantage in that all our rowers are high school students and the responsibility for athlete health is managed within the school athletic systems.
The crux of our program is lightweights are identified, BEFORE the competitive season during a four-week window, by body fat (OK, body composition) measurements. This determines the athlete minimum weight at 12% body fat (female) or 7% (male). If your minimum determination is above the weight maximum (130 women, 150 men), you cannot row lightweight – period. Those who can safely lose weight are placed on a program modeled after the wrestling weight management program. Weighing is REQUIRED at least weekly to ensure compliance. Additionally, no one – doctors, nurses, coaches, parents, NO ONE – can override the ATC eligibility determination.
During the nine years VASRA has had the program, I have seen lightweight participation increase as natural lightweights join teams knowing they can earn a seat not in competition with heavier teammates who are now not allowed to lose (unsafe) weight. I only occasionally see stress for the marginal-weight athlete at regatta weigh-ins … the vast majority are 115-125 lb (women) and ~140-145 lb (men) … I call them athlete sticks … who are delighted to be able to row in fair competition and weigh-ins are just a necessary part of the procedure.
We have a few head coaches who understand the value of the RWCP and have their entire team in the program in order to monitor general health of every rower regardless if they row lightweight.
John D White
Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association