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JUB Rowing Spring Camp 2013 (Who cares?)

Difficulties. The 2013 rowing spring camp started at 7:30 on Saturday 23rd but not from the porters in the vans as we expected, but in the new-build Jacobs’ sports hall with running and stretching. The coach (as well as the team) found himself in the difficult situation of making the decision of the spring camp venue, due to awful weather conditions in Berlin – frozen lake, low temperatures, etc. All of us had high expectations of being on water most of the time, mainly focusing on improving one’s technique but the conditions in Bremen were not looking good as well and we spent the first two days of the camp without even going down on the dock.

Kings/Queens of the Hill. In order to make the best out of the situation we went cross-country skiing in the Harz mountains, which was definitely a fun, educational and exhausting experience for most of us. We had a short lesson form Lars (who was the only one who kept his outfit dry) and we were off. Most of us got a nice tan and windburn from the almost 18km run to the top of the hill, where we had a nice and deserved lunch, and back. We ended our trip in the Harz mountains with a nice and unexpectedly large Windbeutel.

The sky stars turning from grey to blue. We finally went on water (Yey!). Despite the low temperatures Lesum gave us pretty decent conditions for rowing. Sun was blinding our eyes, water seemed to be quite still, the girls took out Lotti and the guys take care of Frieda. The fact that the men’s crew had a little shortage of people (due to the holiday) turned out to be rather a good thing, because we had a nice and experienced bow pair – Lars and our very own Andrey Raykov. Together with Ahmed and Kerst up in front they really brought experience and balance to the boat, helping the middle four to advance quickly and gain a valuable kilometers on water. Hearing Andrey shouting “This is how champions are made”, “It’s your time now”, “Together, eeevery stroke counts” really made us push ourselves further and make the boat fly and think of how hard the HSBA crew is training and try to do everything better. The other (everchanging) crews are not to be underestimated at all. Especially the girls’ quad that kicked the asses of the guys’ Strandlust in 2 small races they had towards the end of the camp and showed them that working together and having a good balance in the boat is much more important than making long a powerful strokes and having a high stroke rate without a synchronization with your crew. We come to our coxswains who certainly learned and improved a lot. They steered many different boats/crews, went on the motorboat with Lars and Cheema even put himself on the other side of the boat and tried sculling to see what it is to row and have a feeling of how important are the cox’s commands. Last but not least from our water outings – none of us capsized!

The torture chambers. a.k.a the gym and the tank below the sports hall. Of course it wouldn’t have been a proper training camp if we hadn’t done gym workout, erging and rowing in the tank. We had some nice video analysis of our technique and comments from the coach how we can improve ourselves. We started out gym sessions with a 15min warming up on the ergs in VRV followed by 3-4 sets of our favourite exercise -  the infamous Flying Dutchman. As surprising as it may sound we didn’t feel the pain we expected to from it. There was one simple reason for it – laughter and more laughter. While doing the sets there was constantly somebody telling jokes, which served as a great distraction from the pain and muscle soreness we all had. What is more, we had a nice small intercultural training – counting in up to  7 (or even more) different languages. The man who was boosting our spirits and making us push ourselves the most in the gym – Andrey – had another important part in our camp. He was our nutritionist. I think if everyone should remember him with one thing, this is the protein/power bars. We couldn’t wait to get into the van after a long and exhausting practice and grab 2-3 power bars. Furthermore, he shared hiw iso drinks and protein shakes with the team, showing them the advantages of taking them. I think we all agreed that Michael was the one most satisfied with Andrey’s strawberry protein shake. Is that so Michael?

(Canadian) Sauna: On our leisure day we went to one big swimming center with loads of different swimming pools and saunas. It served as a great relief after all the hours and sweat we all put in the all-day long outings. Most of us made 3-4 rounds all in saunas with different temperatures and we finished the day with a classy dinner in a restaurant close to last year’s spring camp site.

Rowers can cook: Who knew? We had one dinner entirely prepared by the JUB Rowing Crew. Chef Mat offered to give us his recipe for Jambalaya and be the main cook for the night. We made two versions of it – a German one and a spicy one. We had our lovely cox Ale who prepared two trays of “lick your fingers” delicious bruschettas that were gone in less than 15 minutes. Not to forget our big dessert – the rowing chocolate biscuit cake, which we took in the multimedia room and ate while we watched previous Oxford-Cambridge rowing races and Olympic rowing finals.

Gold fever: One night we went to the TV lounge and played the brilliant BBC documentary “Gold Fever”, which told us the story of the legendary Sir Steve Redgrave, a five time Olympic gold medalist, and his crew on their 4-year long pursuit for that 5th gold medal in Sydney 2000. After that we all watched the coxless four final and got injected with another dose of the rowing virus, seeing them pushing theirselves to the limit, especially Steve who was fighting diabetes, but did not quit and let his team down.

One last time: The last night had to be good. The girls organised a girls night with watching movies, nail polishing and eating ice cream with fruits, while the boys decided to go for a roadtrip to the North Sea with one of the vans. We knew it was a good night when we had eaten the best doners in Germany, saw (heard) the North Sea and turned the van into an underground bar/pub.

And here I am now writing the last sentences of my first Jacobs rowing report, still in my unisuit and not willing to take it off, simply because this week was the most amazing time I’ve had in Jacobs so far. It was truly a great team bonding experience, fighting with the difficulties and making the best out of the situation, and I just don’t want it to end. Finally, please don’t go hard on me with all of the grammar mistakes, inaccuracies and not mentioning everybody, but it is hard to sum up such an eventful week in one report and not making it too long (which this one I think already is). See you next time, and I am sure we can keep our rowing team spirit up, work together and show the cocky HSBA how it’s done! Like a steam machine, right? Chup, chup, chup!!!

YEAH, CHIKAS! (with Ahmed’s voice)