Anyone who has ever been in a rowing boat knows how hard it can be to improve their technique. The conditions during an outing can be poor, and translating a coach’s words into physical movements is an artform that takes some time to master. To this end, Downing College Boat Club has decided to build a rowing tank – an indoor system in which athletes can can be coached in laboratory conditions. Our tank will be similar in design to the one shown in this video, at Yale University in the US:
These training facilities, used extensively in the US and now becoming more prevalent in the UK, are excellent in developing good rowing technique in novices, and better rowing technique in more experienced rowers. The setup will feature an advanced audio-visual system, fully rigged up with cameras and screens. Rowers will be able to watch their movements in real time from several angles on a screen in front of them, feedback which we can only dream of having while rowing on the water.
The money necessary was raised by the concerted effort of a team of alumni and current students over the course of several months. The project is now well underway: the tank itself has been delivered from Boston to Cambridge, and work started on the renovation of the boathouse in June 2017. The first training sessions in the new tank are expected to happen in early January 2018.
DCBC will have priority use of the tank, allowing us to train our own novice and senior rowers to the highest standard. The unit will also be let out to other colleges, clubs, and schools, which we hope will have a major positive impact on the overall standard of rowing in Cambridge.
This is a hugely ambitious project, and we are incredibly grateful for the support of our alumni who ensured that it could go ahead. Special thanks go to Jeremy Boardman, Simon Wood, Charlie Slater and Ian Watson for the time, initiative and passion that they contributed to turning this dream into a reality.