Charles Sweeney wrote this lyrical essay about his July rowing on the Masters Rowing International Facebook Group
Photo credit: Riverside Rowing Club
The humidity wraps itself around you like an itchy blanket the moment you walk outside. It’s — once again — still dark when you put the boats in. To the not-quite-healed injury that kept you off the water and off the erg for six months, your back has added a vaguely alarming tightness reminiscent of the spasms that knocked you out of practice (and out of the best boats) for a couple of weeks two seasons ago.
You haven’t walked up a flight of stairs without your thighs whining in three months, you haven’t caught up on sleep for three weeks and your pre-arthritic knees ache unless you take three shark cartilage pills every day. Dropping weight in alarming ways. The minute on/minute offs are up to 36 strokes a minute and the minute offs are going down to 45 seconds. You’re sick of the sound of the erg – and the way sitting in it for an hour hurts your ass, despite the pad.
It’s clear that, despite constant megaphone reminders from the launch, this is not the season your stroke will rise from tolerable to competent. Every practice will be punctuated by amplified cries of “Charles, patient arms” during the drive, “Charles, high hands” at the finish and “Charles, grab and THEN go” at the catch.
Must be July.
Annual hated July 2k test showed that — if you weren’t back in PR territory, you were definitely back. Got in all the good boats in the Big Regatta and clawed back a boat length in last quarter of the other two races, winning by half a length — the team won the Sweeps Cup.
The ducklings on the river are growing up, you can’t beat a good sunrise and the other morning Venus and the moon acted out a line from the Grateful Dead’s “Terrapin Station.”
Might be worth it.