SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Many Bronco student-athletes start their day off bright and early while the rest of the Santa Clara student population are still asleep in their comfy beds. For Russell Wetherley (RW) of the Bronco men's rowing team, waking up at 5:40am has been programmed into his body. Wetherley gave SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) an insight to what his typical week of practice looks like, and what he is hoping for from the team this year.
SCB: How does your typical week of practice look like?
RW: In a typical week, we practice many times during the week. We go Monday through Wednesday as well as Friday and Saturday in the morning, and then Monday through Friday in the evenings. The morning practices are when we travel to the water, while the afternoons are left for strength and endurance training, which is mostly done on the rowing machines. In the mornings, we wake up around 5:40 am to meet at the Leavey parking lot by 6:00 am, where we drive to Lexington Reservoir, which is about 20 minutes away. We then spend about 20 to 30 minutes getting all of our equipment ready, which includes getting the oars and boats, both for the rowers and coaches, down a fairly steep hill from the boathouse to the lake. After we get off the dock, we practice for roughly an hour and a half to two hours. We then put everything back in the boathouse and arrive back at campus around 9:00 am. This gives us just enough time to grab a quick breakfast right before 9:15 am classes. The morning workouts are much more enjoyable than the afternoons because you actually get to see how your efforts affect the boat speed. In the afternoons, we meet around 4:30 or 5:00 pm and go through an intense workout on the ergs (the rowing machines) which can last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on the day and what kind of fitness we need to improve on.
SCB: What gives you the motivation to wake up at such a grueling hour of the day?
RW: After a while, your body gets used to waking up in the wee hours of the morning. Everything about rowing is getting in the right mindset and habit or rhythm. Every stroke should be exactly the same as every other stroke in the boat, executed at the exact same time, all with maximal effort. This carries through to the rest of our day. You get in a rhythm with your everyday tasks. You know exactly when you need to work on homework, or to eat, or to hang out with friends. Your whole day gets into a pattern of movement that revolves around your practice schedule. Waking up at 5:40 just gets programmed into your rhythm.
SCB: Do you have any rituals that you do before a race?
RW: During our pre-race warm up, and even in the days leading up to the race, I think about the first 20 strokes of the race. Our start is incredibly important. If you execute it like you are supposed to, then you will be in a good position for the rest of the race, however, if you fall behind, then you are playing catch up the rest of the way. This is also where all of the nervousness takes place for me. Once you are past the start, your habit and training kicks in and you know exactly what to do. Really the only time to overthink what you are doing is in those first few strokes. So before my race, I picture what those first strokes will be like to try and calm myself down so that when the starting buzzer sounds, I am ready to battle every other boat as hard as I can through the whole race.
SCB: What do you hope to improve upon this season?
RW: From me this year, I am hoping to improve on my overall rhythm in the boat. One thing I really struggled with last year was matching up with every other guy in the boat on my finish and recovery. Even if I was only a split second off, that is still not good enough to have the boat reach its maximum potential. Besides that, I hope to get stronger as well as improve upon my endurance, just like everyone else on the team.