HomeSkip Navigation LinksPressbox > Training Center Blog

USRowing Training Center Blog

  • #RowToRioChat with @i_silveira

    Full story

  • 2014 Chula Vista Camp Wrap-Up

    It is hard to believe three months at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista has gone by. For 16 athletes we spent a quarter of the year eating, sleeping and rowing multiple times a day away from Princeton, N.J. Even with our hard workouts, there was still time to fit in some fun activities to break up the training.

    The family of Kerry Simmonds, world record-holder and 2013 gold medalist in the women’s eight, and a local San Diegan was kind enough to invite the women’s training squad over for a cookout. It is always such a blast to meet teammates’ families. Not only did the Simmons family cook a delicious meal of grilled veggies, salmon, chicken and pie, but also provided great conversation. Thank you again to Kerry and her family for spending time feeding many hungry rowers.

    At the three-weeks-remaining mark, the men’s training squad returned to Chula Vista and hit the ground running. They, too, were able to sneak in a little fun playing team paintball (yes, the coaches played too.) The men’s team even got to have a little friendly scrimmage with our northern neighbors, the Canadian men’s sweep team.

    Susan Francia, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the women’s eight, connected us with a local company, Mamma Chia, who sent a representative to introduce to their products. I was really only familiar with the chia pets and didn’t know that chia seeds are actually a good source of Omega-3s. It is always so fun to meet companies that are interested in what we do and want to educate us on different forms of nutrition that we might otherwise not have known about.

    We put in a lot of good miles at camp and made a lot of good memories. Getting to experience the Sochi Winter Olympics and bonding with many of the permanent residents of the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center made the trip more memorable. Although many of us are going to miss “Taco Tuesdays” and “Brinner” (breakfast for dinner) Wednesdays, it is nice to be back in Princeton. On the horizon, NSR 1 is fast approaching. We are staying focused and getting right back to our home water, now that it is not frozen.

    Vicky Opitz
    @vickyopitz

    *Photo credit Kerry Simmons and Grace Luczak

    Full story

  • Meet Vicky Opitz

    My name is Vicky Opitz, from Middleton, Wis., and I have been rowing for seven years. This is my first post as the USRowing Training Center blogger, and I wanted to take a moment to introduce how I came to be a rower at the training center.

    I officially came to rowing in the fall of 2006 as a freshman novice walk-on at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While I had heard many stories from my family about learning to row, I was truly unprepared to be thrown in a boat. Freshman and sophomore year were spent learning a lot about rowing. Junior year was finally the year I was able to “find” my legs. Going from the second varsity four to the varsity eight was still a jump, but I suddenly understood how to move a boat and to pull better numbers on the erg. Winning the Big Ten Championship was one of my favorite rowing moments and a great way to close out my senior year at Wisconsin.

    I was invited to participate in a 2010 under 23 sculling camp after NCAAs my senior year. I wrapped up my degree requirements and graduated in May of 2011, majoring in Political Science and Communication Arts. The time had come to move on in my pursuit of elite rowing.

    I came to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, Pa. I was accepted into the elite group at Vesper Boat Club. There, I trained and worked full time in the city. Getting up at 5 a.m. for practice, working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a data analyst for a global clinical trial cost benchmarking company, and then back for a 5:30 p.m. practice. All the while, working a second job on the weekends to make ends meet. I learned a lot while training in Philadelphia. Working full time while training wasn’t always easy, but it made me realize how much I wanted to keep rowing.

    Fast forward to fall of 2012, after competing in the USRowing Fall Speed Order and a tryout camp that followed, I was invited to join the USRowing Training Center in Princeton, N.J.

    My first year at the training center has been a whirlwind, racing in Lucerne at World Cup III and at the world championships in Chungju with amazing teammates.

    True to what my predecessor, Meghan O’Leary, said, I am a foodie, specifically dessert. Besides seeking out new and interesting food to try, I am an avid reader, scrap-booker, and recently have taken up knitting to fill in our down time from training. I am very honored to take over the training center blog from O’Leary, who has done a fantastic job over the past year. I am excited to be a different “voice” of USRowing and I’m looking forward to sharing stories from the men and women training for Team USA!

    Vicky Opitz
    @vickyopitz

    Full story

  • Passing The Torch

    Forgive the Olympics-themed metaphor, but I thought it rather appropriate. This will be my final blog post for the USRowing Training Center Blog. I took the helm just over a year ago, in February 2013 and have thoroughly enjoyed being “the voice” of the Training Center and sharing the stories of the men and women training to compete for the United States Rowing Team. It’s been a great ride; but other duties call, and so I will pass the torch to fellow training center athlete and teammate, Vicky Opitz.

    Vicky was a member of the 2013 World Champion and world record-setting women’s eight. She hails from Madison, Wisconsin and is basically a professional dessert critic. Seriously, if you need suggestions on the best cupcake or donut shop in town, she is all-knowing. After she’s done rowing, she aspires to go to culinary school, specializing in pastry. You may also remember Vicky as a guest blogger for the Training Center Blog’s Thanksgiving post, Teamsgiving 2013. She’s going to do an awesome job keeping the blog rolling.

    In December, I was voted onto the USRowing Board of Directors as the Female Athlete Representative. As a result, I will be stepping away from my USRowing writing duties and replacing them with serving on the USRA Board for the next term through 2017.

    I’m very excited to be joining the Board of Directors and feel I will bring a unique perspective as the Athlete Representative, having a bit of a different background and entering the sport of rowing later in life. In this particular position, I represent the needs of national team athletes including Paralympic, Olympic, and Pan-American team athletes. I’m looking forward to serving and hopefully making an impact to help grow and strengthen the sport in all areas.

    And so, to you the readers, I say thank you. I hope there was a post or two that made you laugh, that you could relate to, and that maybe even inspired you. I’ll still be blogging from my own personal website and hope to see you there!

    Every Day Counts.

    Meghan O’Leary
    @MeghanOLeary1


    Full story

  • Sunshine in February: Tampa Welcomes USRowing Training Center Athletes

    A couple of weeks ago, a group of athletes from the USRowing Training Center in Princeton along with women’s assistant coach, John Wall and USRowing High Performance Director, Curtis Jordan traveled to Tampa, Florida for the 3rd Annual Roosevelt Regatta (Feb. 14th-16th). The Stewards Foundation hosted the Training Center athletes for a week-long training trip that ended with an exhibition race as a part of the weekend festivities.

    It sounded like a pretty fun trip and great way to escape the cold winter weather of Princeton, NJ. Adrienne Martelli, four-time National Teamer and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the women’s quadruple sculls, was a member of the Tampa group. I caught up with Adrienne to give me the scoop on how the Tampa trip went.

    Q: How is winter training going?

    A: Winter training has been going well! I've been with a smaller group out in Princeton with mostly new athletes to the training center, so it has been really fun getting to know them. We've bonded over having to shovel mountains of snow to get to practice.

    Q: With all of the brutal weather that has hit the east coast this year, I bet Tampa was a nice break to get away from the cold and snow. Overall, how was the trip?

    A: The trip was such a great escape. We were on the water for the very first practice and you could just feel the excitement and happiness in getting to row. The boat included Katelin Snyder (coxswain, University of Washington), Kristine O'Brien (stroke, University of Virginia), Sam Warren (7, Columbia), Tracy Eisser (6, Cornell), Grace Latz (5, University of Wisconsin), myself (4, University of Washington), Kelly Pierce (3, Princeton), Molly Hamrick (2, Princeton), and Hayley Daniell (bow, Dartmouth). A few of the athletes on the trip had been to Tampa before, including Molly who actually grew up in the area. A special thank you to her dad who transported a few of us to abd from the airport at horrible hours.

    Q: Where did you stay and train while in Tampa? How were the facilities?

    A: We stayed at a hotel directly across the river from The Stewards Foundation boathouse, which is where we trained and launched from. The water we rowed on was great. The river seemed almost endless, so we did a lot of long, continuous rows.

    Q: How was it racing in the 3rd Annual Roosevelt Rowing Regatta. How was that experience?

    A: The regatta was a really fun experience. Since we were launching from the Stewards Foundation boathouse, there were a lot of juniors preparing for and recovering from their races. I think one of the best parts about rowing is that no matter the experience level, everyone goes through the same emotions prior to racing. It creates a certain atmosphere that was nice to be a part of again. Since we were an exhibition race, our main focus was having our best piece of the week, which I think we accomplished. We also had a few chants of "USA! USA!" as we went by the crowds, which gives you a little boost! The course is really cool in that the downtown Tampa cityscape provides the backdrop.

    Q: You guys were featured as sort of “celebrities” at the regatta. How was that experience? Did they plan any special events for you all?

    A: I think most of us are used to training and racing in general anonymity, so the enthusiasm and generosity that everyone showed us was incredible. The Stewards Foundation put together a reception the night before racing where we were able to meet a lot of new people, ranging from referees to juniors to parents to supporters. We got to lead a 30-minute core circuit with the juniors, which was great. I think some of the local news affiliates also did a story on us.

     

    Q: Other than training and racing, did the group have time for any “fun” while in Tampa?

    A: Other than training, we had a few adventures around town. Activities included exploring University of Tampa's campus, a farmer's market, Taco Tuesday at Taco Bus (delicious!), and a movie night!

    Q: What was your favorite part of the trip?

    A: We held a private awards ceremony amongst the nine of us that involved Katelin Snyder purposefully butchering our names and all of us humming the Olympics theme song. There may have also been some popcorn confetti. It was a celebration of ending a really solid week of training.

    Q: The 2014 racing season is just around the corner. What are you looking forward to most about this year?

    A: I've been a lot healthier this year compared to the previous season, so I'm excited to see how the work from this fall and winter will translate into racing. It's always exciting to see where the team's speed is coming off of winter.


    Full story

  • USRowing Twitter Chat with Zach Vlahos

    On Wednesday (February 12th), USRowing will hold its third monthly USRowing Training Center Athlete Twitter Chat. We’ve already had two exhilarating and motivating chats with Mike Gennaro in December and Meghan Musnicki in January. On the second Wednesday of each month, members and fans have the opportunity to chat live with an athlete at the USRowing Training Center about training, nutrition, motivation and their pre-race superstitions. What is their favorite (or most hated) workout? What do they eat before a big erg test or race? What was it like to win an Olympic medal?

    This week, five-time National teamer, 2012 Olympian and coxswain of the men’s eight, Zach Vlahos will give us the down and dirty of what its like to drive one of the fastest boats in the world. The 2013 U.S. men’s eight took home a gold medal at World Cup 3 in Lucerne and a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships in South Korea. Born and raised in California, Zach began rowing with the Oakland Strokes 12 years ago. He is a proud graduate from the University of California, where he helped lead the Golden Bears varsity eight to the 2010 IRA Championship. Vlahos has coxed for the Junior, Under 23 and the Senior National Team men’s eights, including the men’s eight at the 2012 London Olympics. You could say he has a bit of experience.

    Make sure you set a calendar reminder on your phone, tablet or computer for Wednesday, February 12th 12-1pm ET and tune in for the USRowing Training Center Twitter live chat.

    During the live chat, be sure to follow and send your questions directly to Zach Vlahos (@zvlahos) or (@USRowing) using hashtag #rowtoriochat.

    And be sure to mark your calendar for our upcoming live chats with other featured USRowing Training Center athletes:

    March 12, 2014
    Kerry Simmonds (simmonds_kerry)

    April 9, 2014
    Ian Silveira (@i_silveira)

    Full story

  • The Chula Vista Training Camp Diaries V2: Photo Essay

    My double partner, Ellen Tomek and I arrived at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. last week for a month-long winter training camp here. As we took off from the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, we watched three to four inches of snow on the ground disappear in the distance as we headed to the warm and sunny southwest.

    While we are very much enjoying our first week here, the women from the Princeton Training Center have already been here for nearly six weeks. To help illustrate the life and times of winter training camp in Chula Vista for the women from the Princeton Training Center, I called on six-time National Teamer and 2013 World Champion in the eight, Grace Luczak.

    Through a series of photos and photo collages all paired with creative captions, Grace has created quite the photo essay, giving you a glimpse of where we train, eat, recover and how we spend our little, but valuable free time while at camp. Enjoy!

    “Get More with Core.”
    Core is a fundamental building block to being an elite rower.

    "
Let There Be Cake!"

    Birthday Celebrations at the Olympic Training Center. Happy Birthday to Emily Huelskamp, Liv Coffey and Meghan Musnicki!

    BMX course en route to the OTC dining hall. Cross-training anyone?

    The Mettler's Head of the Schuylkill shirt is the only surviving trace of the East Coast we left behind for San Diego this winter. Bring on the Vitamin D and sunshine!

    Afternoon off at the Perfect Foods Bar factory. Seeing how it's made. Smelling and tasting how it's made was a delicious bonus!

    “Mitten State” Love.
    Michiganders and University of Michigan / Michigan State grads: Emily Regan (MSU), Felice Mueller (UM), Katelin Snyder (Detroit, MI), Grace Luczak (Ann Arbor, MI). More National Team Michigan connections with Ellen Tomek (UM & Flushing, MI).

    MCAT Prep for Heidi Robbins. Emily Regan demonstrating practical application of the glycolysis study guide.

    "Bee Balm Production Line."
    Our USOC massage therapist, Alicia taught the team how to make bee balm chapstick. The bees live on site at the OTC next to the archery field! (Photo credit: Vicky Optiz)

    "Four!!!"
    An outing to the PGA Tour in Torrey Pines.

    Ran into fellow OTC athlete, USA archer Nick Kale. 


    Katelin Snyder and Felice Mueller walking from the weight room to the cafeteria to refuel after practice.

    So much appreciation for all of the support we have from our training centers and country! Proudly training to represent Team USA.

    Around the United States Olympic Training Center day to day activities: Meeting other athletes, cheering them on during their selection scrimmages (rugby), being patriotic.
 Featured: Lex Gillette and Blake Leeper of USA Rugby

    "Good Eats."
    Refueling and recovering from the morning row. At the OTC dining hall waiting for Taco Tuesday.

    "Land of the free, home of the brave."

    Outings outside of the Training Center: Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument. 


    "Normatek Club: Optimizing Recovery.
"
    The men's lightweight team comes to visit the OTC. Will Daly hitting the recovery hard with Taylor Goetzinger keeping him on task and entertained with poetry readings.

    Full story

  • The Erg Test Prep Guide

    “Erg Test.” Two words spoken by your coach that unfailingly send waves of nausea mixed with a little excitement and anticipation or perhaps fear and anxiety through your entire body. Your stomach suddenly feels hollow and your throat tightens as beads of sweat form on your forehead.

    As painful and as dreadful as they may be, erg tests are actually a wonderful thing. Maybe you’re even the crazy type that signs up for erg challenges. (Here’s to you all you CRASH-B lunatics). Don’t get me wrong. Erg tests are no walk on the beach at sunset. There’s rarely ever anything pretty about them. They hurt. They should hurt. Above all else, an erg test forces you to go toe to toe with the greatest competitor in the sport of rowing you’ll ever face: yourself.

    Over the past year I have actually come to really look forward to erg tests. Especially during the winter training months, erg tests provide those rare opportunities to compete and truly test your physiological advances and where your limits lie. The erg test can be a tricky thing though. A great piece will make you feel like you can accomplish anything and take on the world; a crash and burn may make you question why you’re even in this sport. But as I’ve said before: in rowing, you have to ride the highs and lows with some level of consistency and almost complacency. You can’t get too wrapped up in success or too dragged down by defeat. Every day is a battle and inevitably, some days you will win and some days you will fall a little short.

    In honor of all of you preparing for any big erg tests coming up, I’ve put together a little “Erg Test Prep” guide. I will advise to take what I say with a grain of salt and make sure you read it through your own personal lens. Every athlete is different and their needs unique. The most important key to success in anything is learning what works best for you.

    The Erg Test Prep Guide:

    Just Like Your Teacher Told You, Don’t Cram For The Test.
    There are no shortcuts in rowing. You have to put in the work to see real results. The week before an erg test is not the time to start working hard. If anything, it’s actually quite the opposite. You should be confident in the work you’ve put in the past several weeks and months so that the few days leading up to the test, you are able to chill out a bit and give your body some time to relax before really putting it through the gauntlet. If you know you are going to have an erg test in a month or two months, set small goals for yourself in that time period to make sure you’re on track with your ultimate goal of nailing that erg test.

    Rest is Best.
    Getting enough sleep the week of a big race or erg test is an absolute. Hopefully you have already made sleep a priority in your schedule so that getting adequate rest the week of the big test isn’t a new habit you’re just now forming. Plan ahead and try to clear your schedule as much as possible during test week so that you aren’t caught staying up late with work or social engagements. In such a physically demanding sport like rowing, the proper amount of sleep and rest is critical for recovery and optimal performance. Especially during test week, I try to make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep a night.

    Eat What You Want to Be.
    You want to be the best? So eat the best foods. Chowing down on candy, soda, and junk food may work for some people to be at their best; but there is a reason that the world’s top athletes consider nutrition an integral component to their athletic success. Eating on a regular schedule and foods that give you the right amount of energy can make the difference between knocking it out of the park or crashing and burning. For every workout, I always bring a recovery snack and make sure to consume it within 30-45 minutes after I’ve finished training. The type of workout will determine what kind of snack I may bring, but I’m always mindful that my body is getting some carbs and protein, which are both vital to recovery. Good ideas include a piece of fruit and a bar (Clif, Luna, Kashi, Kind, Odwalla, etc.) or some Greek yogurt (I’m a huge fan of Chobani or Fage). Recovery shakes are an easy and great way to refuel as well.

    Day of the Test: Keep it simple. Stick to foods you know that sit well with you, that you can easily digest, and will fuel you. Get a good mix of carbohydrates and protein. Make sure you eat a bigger meal at least three hours before the test to give your body the time it needs to digest and turn that food into energy. This allows you to be able to snack a bit closer to the test on something lighter like a bar or banana with a little bit of peanut butter. Helpful hint: pick something that won’t come back up during the test. I eat the same thing every morning before my first workout and this carries over to test morning. This way I don’t surprise my body with anything new so that the only thing it has to focus on is working as hard as possible on the erg.

    Secret Tip: Right before any big erg test or race, I take a GU gel packet. GU Energy Gel packets provide a quick 100 calories of high-quality, easily digested, and long-lasting energy.

    Drink Up!
    You’ve heard it from your coaches a million times over: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The tricky part about being hydrated is that you can’t take care of it the day of or even the day before your test. It’s a process and something you have to be consistent with. Hopefully you’ve already developed wonderful hydration habits, but heading into test week be extra diligent about putting those fluids into your body. I try to make sure I always finish the water and/or Gatorade I pack for training sessions. In between practices, be mindful of continuing to hydrate. For some people, water can be boring so try to spice it up a bit with (healthy) things you like to drink. This will make it easier. Personally, I like to stock up on coconut water, decaf coffee, and tea. Keep a water bottle by your bed at night. Sip on it as your reading or watching TV before you fall asleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night thirsty or to take a trip to the bathroom, you already have some water handy. There is such a thing as “over-hydrating” which can be just as troublesome as being dehydrated. Just be smart and mindful of how you’re feeling. If you’re having to get up more than once during the night to go to the bathroom, cut back on the liquid intake right before bed. Urine color analysis is an easy way to monitor your hydration.

    Body Work.
    During test week it is important to keep up with your stretching routine, get a massage if you need one, ice those nagging ailments, and spend some time on the foam roller. These are all things that are hopefully already a part of your routine and will help you feel fully recovered come test day. If you’re not used to massages, I wouldn’t recommend trying this the week of a big test; but if you do get one, make sure you have a day or two before the test to recover in case the massage makes you a little sore. Personally, I like scheduling a massage two to three days ahead of a big test. Whatever it is, do what you need to do to make sure you’re feeling relaxed and as good as possible when you wake up test day.

    Plan, Visualize, Walk Through.
    Visualization; meditation; imagery; mental rehearsal. Not everyone buys into these tactics, but they have been proven to contribute to many athletes’ success. Whatever term you use for it, the mental practice of seeing yourself do well during your erg piece can help you to better prepare for it. Come up with a “race plan” for your piece. Write it down in your training journal. (You DO have a training journal, don’t you!?) Commit to it. If you’re not sure about what your goal should be, talk to your coaches about it. They should have an idea about where your fitness is and what the expectations will be on the test.

    Personally, I like to break my piece down into smaller parts. Maybe it’s a 2K broken down into 500-meter sections or a 6K broken down into 1200 or 1500-meter sections. Within your plan, set an overall goal but also create steps toward reaching that goal. I approach an erg test with the idea of "negative splitting," meaning that I try to go a little faster with each step. What do you want to accomplish in the second 500? What split do you need to pull in your sprint to reach that goal?

    Rehearse your plan, visualize your test. Set the erg for the amount of time you want your goal split to be and paddle through the “test” time visualizing yourself hitting each split during each step of the piece. Football teams have “walk through” practices on the day before their games, walking through their plays and visualizing their opponent’s offense and defense. Again, your biggest competitor is yourself and how well you prepare determines how well you perform.

    And last but certainly not least, go fast. Give 100% of yourself during the piece. It’s an erg test; treat it like the championship final of a big race. You already know your body will experience some pain. It’s amazing how quickly the pain goes away after accomplishing something you set out to do.

    Full story

  • The Chula Vista Training Camp Diaries V1

    Every winter, the men and women of the USRowing Training Center in Princeton, the USRowing Training Center in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City National High Performance Center), and a few other members of the Senior Team system training outside of formal training centers, descend upon the warmer waters and milder temperatures of the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, located just south of San Diego, Calif.

    One of my favorite things about camp at Chula Vista, is that you are constantly surrounded by a culture of high performance. It is the United States Olympic Training Center. Just sounds cool to say it out loud, doesn’t it? Beyond seeing the Olympic rings and American flag everywhere you go (and being infinitely inspired), it means you are surrounded by athletes and professionals whose job it is to be the best in their sport or to support you at being the best in your sport. In a sport like rowing where oftentimes you get a raised eyebrow or funny expression after answering that iconic question of “what is that you do?”, it feels pretty good to be treated like what you do is understood, acknowledged and matters to the people around you.

    Rowers are some of the hardest working people I know. While at training camp, we put a lot of time into our training, resting, and recovering. After a while, being cooped up at a training center with limited transportation (and really, time) to get outside the walls of our boathouse, dining hall, and dorms can sometimes lead to odd behavior. Like people getting overly excited to go to Wal-Mart on a Wednesday night or getting really involved in the “Finding Bigfoot” television marathon on the Animal Planet channel. Don’t judge; it is actually incredibly entertaining and happens to the best of us.

    The time spent there varies from team to team, ranging from a 10-day training trip to a three month stay. If only we could all be so lucky. This year, I am fortunate enough to spend a solid month out there during February. And so while I am not there (yet) to tell the stories of the “Row World: San Diego” for the month of January, I’ve called on a good friend and former teammate from my days in Princeton, Kerry Simmonds.

    Kerry was a member of the 2013 women’s eight which set a new world record and won gold in Lucerne at World Cup 3 and went on to claim the 2013 World Championship. She has been training at the USRowing Training Center in Princeton since the summer of 2011 after graduating from the University of Washington. In addition to her 2013 World Championship, Kerry also brought home a gold medal in 2010 with the Under 23 women’s eight. She will also be the featured athlete in March for USRowing’s monthly live Twitter chat, so be sure to tune in on March 12th.

    MO: So you’ve been in Chula Vista for almost two weeks now. How is camp going?

    KS: Camp is going well! Feels like we are all starting to settle into a routine here and I can feel my body is doing better in regards to handling the drier, hotter climate. Though I do feel like I am having to reapply lotion and lip balm rather constantly. There were a couple of days that broke temperature records for the month of January (it hit mid-80s) making it a bit more uncomfortable to erg in the afternoon…but hey, I’m not really complaining. I’ll take that any day over an east coast January day. All in all, it has been very pleasant here and it feels great to be out on the water again.

    MO: Outside of getting your workouts in and plenty of rest, have you all managed to do anything fun or take any excursions outside of the Training Center?

    KS: I mean it’s only now the beginning of week three. We now have had two weekends in Chula. The first weekend for most people was all about recovering from the “adjustment week” that was week one. This group training right now as a whole is a relatively low-key group so I think many of us like to chill out on the afternoons or mornings off. There have been some successful trips to the nearby movie theatre and shopping center as a few teammates rented or drove cars here for the three-month camp. I personally have been able to get away for a bit on the weekends and visit home as my family lives in the San Diego area. We are sort of sandwiched between residential areas and the Mexican border so the excursions have been limited…I do say a trip to the beach is in order though before we head back east.

    MO: What is the best thing about being at camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista? ...and the worst?

    KS: The best thing about CVOTC for me is probably a tie between the consistently nice weather, the dining hall food with healthy ready-made meals prepared by a very friendly staff, and lastly, the sports medicine center. Athletes have easy access to competent PT/chiropractors, massage therapists, ice/hot bath, etc, that can really help in keeping you healthy or aid in recovery. As far as the worst thing, I predict many might say that if you don’t have a way out, you start to feel quite isolated and trapped at the Training Center. We are surrounded by residential areas and the closest shopping center is approximately three miles away; not ideal for those without vehicles. “Stir crazy” is often the term thrown around here. So it is best to try and get off site when you can, just to keep your mental health in check. For me however, with family nearby, the worst thing is not the stir-crazy-prone location but rather, I find the erg space to be the worst. It gets pretty hot as it is a converted boat bay. So essentially it is a fairly small rectangular room with only one side open to the outside. This means air circulation is rather poor, A/C is non-existent and the portable music player, although it works, isn’t always audible enough during those long, hard pieces. The room size also means the team cannot really stretch and erg at the same time. But since more of our training can be done on the water here, we can all suck it up for a few erg sessions a week.

    MO: This is your second trip with the senior team to San Diego. Now that you’re an old veteran with a gold medal, how has your perspective toward camp/training changed?

    KS: Well let’s be real: I’m definitely several years away from being a National Team veteran, let alone an “old” member on the team ;-). This past summer was my first year making the team so I consider myself very much a rookie still. Which I think is a good thing, because it keeps me open to absorbing as much knowledge as I can from those with greater experience and many more medals. However, I will say that I am more comfortable with this camp and training with this group than I was last winter. This time last year, I had only rowed in the single minus the occasional practice in a bigger sculling boat versus coming into winter camp this year, I already have had the opportunity to row in small and big boats with most of my teammates. I find that when you row with someone and both of you have some time to work together to try and make a boat go fast or rather, make it faster than where you began, it creates a special bond. So I have more of those bonds with my teammates and I feel much more a part of the program coming into camp this year. A positive change for sure.

    MO: One of the unique things about training at an Olympic Training Center is that you’re surrounded by a diversity of elite athletes, not just rowers. What other teams are currently training in Chula? Have you had a chance to hang out and get to know any of the other athletes?

    KS: Yes, slowly but surely most of us rowers are branching out and have connected with some of the other athletes training in Chula Vista. So far most of these interactions take place in the dining hall, as meal times are our most social hours of the day. It’s a full campus right now with a variety of teams. The ones that train here most of the year AKA “long term” athletes, are Men’s and Women’s Rugby, Archery, Track and Field (both Paralympic and Olympic athletes), as well as BMX athletes and Women’s Field Hockey. Those teams are here in addition to the “short term” groups like our Men’s and Women’s Rowing teams and Canada’s Women’s Rugby team was also here this past week. It’s been fun making new friends and seeing old ones, and learning about the differences and similarities in their sport and training compared to ours.

    MO: You’re quite the smartphone photographer. Can you share with us your favorite shot you’ve taken while in Chula?

    KS: That’s kind of you to say. Here is a shot from this past week. This place (CVOTC) is very picturesque. Unfortunately, my phone camera does not do it justice, but the low resolution and sort of saturated coloring the phone gives it does create a sort of “polaroid quality” if you will. Must get a real camera soon.


    MO: Lastly, any good stories to share about being in camp? Are you all going stir crazy yet?

    KS: I don’t consider myself very gifted at storytelling with words. I personally prefer telling events with pictures. However, I can suggest to anyone that may be interested, you can follow some of the random going-ons at the Training Center via Twitter. Most of my teammates have accounts and are keeping their followers updated with #CVOTC2014. Check it out.


    Photo credit: Kerry Simmonds, Meghan O'Leary

    Full story

  • USRowing Twitter Chat with Meghan Musnicki

    This Wednesday (January 8th), USRowing will hold its second installment of the USRowing Training Center Twitter Chats. If you’re a little late to the game and this is the first time you’re hearing of it, you missed a great debut chat last month with men’s four bronze medalist, Mike Gennaro. As a refresher: on the second Wednesday of each month, members and fans will have the opportunity to chat live with an athlete at the USRowing Training Center about training, nutrition, motivation and their pre-race superstitions. What is their favorite workout? What do they eat before a big erg test or race? What was it like to win an Olympic gold medal?

    This week, four-time National teamer and 2012 London gold medalist in the women’s eight, Meghan “Moose” Musnicki will honor the Twitter-sphere with her presence during this week’s USRowing Twitter chat. Musnicki doubled up this past year in the eight and the pair at the 2013 World Championships, coming away with a gold medal and fourth place finish. Not. Too. Shabby. Born in Naples, New York, she first began rowing at St. Lawrence University before transferring and continuing her collegiate rowing career with Ithaca College. Before she came to the USRowing Training Center in Princeton, Musnicki put in some serious miles with Riverside Boat Club on the Charles River in Boston.

    Make sure you set a calendar reminder on your phone, tablet or computer for Wednesday, January 8th 4-5pm ET and tune in for the USRowing Training Center Twitter live chat.

    During the live chat, be sure to follow and send your questions directly to Meghan “Moose” “Musnicki (@MegMus) or (@USRowing).

    And be sure to mark your calendar for our upcoming live chats with other featured USRowing Training Center athletes:

    February 12, 2014
    Zach Vlahos (@zvlahos)

    March 12, 2014
    Kerry Simmonds (simmonds_kerry)

    April 9, 2014
    Ian Silveira (@i_silveira)

    Full story

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. Next page