By Alicia Weber
Nearly 1,600 indoor rowers competed on the Concept 2 rowing machines at the 2016 33rd Annual Southern Sprints Indoor Rowing Championships/World Qualifier in Melbourne, Florida, on February 13. A rare breed of athletes are drawn to the sport for the thrills of intense speed and power.
There are two different weight classes, lightweight and heavyweight. The maximum weight for a lightweight male is 165 pounds. The max weight for lightweight females is 135 pounds.
I am a lightweight indoor rower. Heavyweight indoor rower from Central Florida, Jennifer Gillette, and I both won the college/open women 500 meter and 2,000 meter events for our weight class. We both performed the rare feat of becoming double gold medalists at these championships.
In the past five years, we have been the only two women in the world that have both been world ranked top 10 three times for our 500 meter race times.
At this championship, Gillette set the American record for the 19-29 age category for heavyweight women with her 500 meter time of 1:30.7. Both of us continue to get faster as we get older. I have competed in this championship for five years, and it has been my goal to win gold. I won many silver and bronze medals, but I was working toward the elusive gold.
It is a dream come true to become a double gold medalist with new personal best times of 1:45.8 for 500 meters and 8:09.4 for 2,000 meters. I became an indoor rower to continue to increase my VO2max, as rowing is considered to be one of the best exercises to increase aerobic capacity.
Gillette is in fighter pilot school at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Only two percent of Air Force fighter pilots are women. Rowing has been excellent conditioning for her to prepare for the G-Forces of flying F 16s.
Dedicated ninth grade rower Robert Delgado-Mendez competed in the 500m to get in shape for rowing on the water. He has competed in Clermont’s Regattas and loves them.
“Rowing is fun with a completely different crowd of people. In individual sports and team sports like soccer and football, you can mess up and still be successful. However, rowing on the water in an 8 boat has to have everyone perfectly in sync or it all goes bad. My coach says you are only as fast as your slowest rower,” explained Delgado-Mendez.
Watch Alicia “World Record Weber” Win Double Gold
In the water, rowers with height and strength have an advantage. A lightweight rowing team might beat a heavyweight rowing team. A heavyweight team creates more drag in the water, which can slow them down. Strength will be necessary to overpower the drag and beat lightweights.
Indoor rowing on Concept 2 machines provides other challenges. A heavyweight rower will create more power from their weight and go faster. A short lightweight will need to produce power through their legs and arms to be able to beat a strong, tall lightweight who will have greater power through their long legs. In any event, indoor rowing provides excellent fitness benefits and strategic competitions.
Alicia can be reached for fitness training or coaching at Awinningway@gmail.com
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