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Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.

From The New York Times:

Her Parents Thought Swimming Lessons Were a Good Idea

Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.…

Former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

Good video about former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka


Sweep rowing isn't like riding a bicycle. Once you get past training wheels, find balance and work under your own power, you're all set for life long recreational enjoyment. Doesn't matter how long you've been away from it, just as long as you know the basics, all you've gotta do is to get on and ride. You can still get from here to there without much muscle memory recall. And you don't have other cyclists depending upon you to get the bike down the road.


Not so with rowing. At least for me. The sheer technicality of the sport can make the most conditioned athlete bi-polar. Last season, after about a month's absence from practicing at least three to four times a week, I returned eager to get back in my seat and row. I missed the exercise and being in the fresh air. It didn't take long to realize my absence had affected my performance. Despite the knowledge, the conditioning, the weeks of training, the desire, I was back to old muscle memory and bad habits...rushing the slide (the encroachment of your legs too early to the catch, or to the position of push off.) and other idiosyncrasies peculiar to my ability to learn this sport.


It's a mind game, really. Good days and bad days. Once one thing is addressed, another flaw emerges. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes without warning, but always SOMETHING to be conquered. And on top of it, it's not just an individual journey (unless you are a sculler), it is a collective one. So on my bad day, everyone else has gotta match my ability (or inability). Interesting athletic concept ---performing to the weakest instead of the strongest. The true reflection of a team sport.


Some days I feel discouraged and defeated. Others exhilarated and accomplished. That day I felt tested and challenged. Can I ever get to the place where I can row like I ride a bike???


Maybe this season.....

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Comment by Faheemah on May 4, 2011 at 11:31pm

Nice post, Lydia :)  I just returned to the water on Tuesday after 3 long years!  I certainly can relate to the frustrations you expressed about performance being affected by time away. The nice thing is, once you get back into "the swing of things" ;) you can continue to build on where you are and before long you'll notice how much your muscle memory has improved.  I think it took me at least 2.5 years of rowing in college (which meant practice many hours each day, indoors and outdoors) before it became like riding a bike.  Now, after three years away, Tuesday felt pretty nice (except for the fact that my endurance is terrible! But I'll work up to it...). If you haven't been rowing for years and hours each day it might take a while.

May I offer a suggestion? If you don't do it already, I'd recommend hopping on the erg a few times a week if you start to feel to frustrated with your form. Although the machine can be torturous, the constant feedback provides reinforcement for consistent form, power, and fluidity.  As a result, I believe that muscle memory is improved once all of the variables that come with being on the water are removed from the equation.

The good thing is that after only a month away, you miss it and continue to go back for more! Best wishes in this season. I hope that you reach your goal :)

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