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Compliments and… stuff (it got a bit out of hand, really..)

So, the other day someone from the club came up to me and gave me what I later realized was a massive, massive compliment.

I have been sculling for less than two months. I am in a “nice” single since I passed my test, last week. Nice meaning that it’s my weight class and rigged for my height.

I had been out in a single - at the same time there were two other singles (her and another guy) and a four. I was doing my loops, including some pressure pieces, balance exercises (…I am a perfectionist.) and race starts.  Faster pieces, slower pieces, with varying pressure etc. .  I like doing things like that, because it shows me what I need to work on.

Anyways, as I was going up the river, she was slightly in front of me and kept shouting my name, and generally just cheered me on. She was practically coxing me for about 500 metres, while doing her own pieces. I went faster than I wanted, and I sure felt like flying. This piece is one of the best I’ve ever rowed in a sculling boat, because I wanted to prove something not only to her, but to myself.

After that, we did our own loops, with me staying ahead of her (it looked the other way round, but I started a wee bit earlier and was one loop ahead all the time). We kept the same distance, the whole time.

I left the water shortly before her, took my boat out, put it up to be washed and went to get my blades & drink when she came out. I put my stuff away and started to wash my boat when she looked at me and said “That was very good. With a little more practice, you’d make a good sculler.”

Bam, first hit. I was chuffed already - that woman has been rowing for decades, she owns her own boat and all this. We kept talking away, and she said that she was very happy to see that I was putting some real work in, instead of just paddling. It was along the line of “I saw you, and you were working really hard. And you were improving throughout the outing, which is very good to see. You put some real work in out there, and you should be proud of yourself for what you achieved in the short time you’ve been here.”

Bam, second. And the she said something which got me thinking. First of all, she said that I should definitely keep at it, because I was dedicated and very, very self-critical, which is essential and could grant me a great future at competitive amateur-level. And then she said “You’d make a really good lightweight.”
At first I thought this was only because I am fairly small (1,68 / 5”6’), but when I read up on lightweight rowing, I always stumbled over the same keywords: superior technique, fitness, and mental strengt. I am not sure if all these apply to me, but I surely work hard and I am very self-critical. I have been known to ask experiences scullersd who saw me if anything was off, out of my own accord.

The thing is… that woman rowed for our national team. More than once. She’s been a lightweight for a long time, and she knows what it entails and what it takes from you. I’d have to drop a considerable amount of weight, yes, and she said that if I decide to go lightweight, I could always contact her prior to it, even if I was already with a different club - because she wanted to have a chat, because she’s seen too many girls take a wrong turn and because she wanted to make clear that I should not feel pressured. And then she said that, if I stayed, she would’ve kept an eye on me, just because.

Honestly? I am massively chuffed. I was so incredibly happy yesterday, especially since I had some problems at my old club, because my 2k-times are not the best (I started off completely untrained with a 2k roughly below 12 minutes. I got it down to 8.40 in less than a year…) and I don’t think my captain liked me in particular. I never got into the good boat, and I never expected to, but I didn’t really feel like I was particularly good or anything. I am still not sure if I am actually as good as she made me feel…

And then this woman comes along and tells me that, in fact, I am pretty good and I bring everything you need to be a good rower: dedication, determination, a helathy dose of self-criticism, the will to constantly improve and the willingness to work hard. Plus, I never ever give up without a fight.

I seriously regret that I have to leave this club soon.

I’m not sure if that made sense, but I had to put it out there. Because seriously, guys, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you’re particularly sporty or anything. In rowing, you get out what you put in. If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll see results and you’ll get better. Everyone uses the same technique - every novice and every Olympic athlete. It’s always the same, drive and recovery are not different for anyone.

The only thing that makes a difference - apart from certain physical assets - is you. If you want this, you can get it. You might be like me, and not particularly fast or anything. I’ll probably never be particularly good at regattas, I’m mor a headrace kind of girl, but I am certainly ready to try.

Even more so now, since I know that there are people out there who believe in me, and who think that I could be good if I am ready to put all the work in. They might be far away soon, but all I can do is repeat what a former cox said to me the other day:

"Wherever you go, you know that you can always come back and we will always have a boat for you."

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