Saarbrucken, Germany was the chosen destination for the 2013 Kingston Senior Squad training camp, and what a destination it proved to be - 20k of quiet, glassy water with hardly another boat in sight (apart from the occasional 250ft coal barge!) and cold but beautiful weather.
After the disappointment of the focus of all their winter training, the HORR, being cancelled, the squad were keen for a bit of a change and the chance to try out some new combinations, new boats and start getting some summer speed work under their belts. So off to Germany, under the organisation of club captain Andrew 'Igor' Martin and eye of rower/coach Danny 'Needle Dick' O'Dowd.
Dreisbach Rowing Club was the host accommodating the squad in a great Hotel with boathouse right on the river. Basic but comfortable rooms with large portions of food to fuel the squad for all the work that was coming!
Days started at 7am with two VIII's going out for a 20k row focusing on strong steady-state rowing, getting good endurance fitness under the belt and consolidating good technique. It was then back to the Boothaus for breakfast followed by a nap!
The second, late morning outings were usually in smaller boats. This was the perfect time to instil great technique in boats where there's nowhere to hide! Several new pair combinations were tried out as well as 4's with some seat racing coming later in the week. One of the great features of the river Saar is that there is a cycle-able footpath the entire length, meaning coaching from the bank was easy (unless your name's Danny and you get the megaphone strap caught in the wheel and go flying over the handle bars!).
After the technical outings the squad would have lunch and then another nap or a little exploration of the surroundings.
The afternoon session would usually be the 'work' session. This is where the crews would get a great chance to move on from the long distance head racing training which had been the staple up until now, to shorter, higher rate speed work. Again, the river Saar lends itself perfectly to this with every 100m marked out on the bank and with a large marker every 500m. This meant that the crews were able to gauge their pieces perfectly and get some good race practice in. The work would usually be 4x 2k pieces or a variation, or some side by side racing with matched crews.
This pattern was repeated for the full 6 days with great commitment and attitude from every squad member. It was a great chance to really boost fitness for the entire squad, lay down some good foundations for the racing season and consolidate on a good winter of training. This was something every squad member took great advantage of, with every athlete noticeably benefitting from the camp, both physically, mentally and with an increased squad bond.
We were lucky enough to have a couple of GoPro cameras with us on the trip so some great footage has been taken and a video edit of the entire trip will be coming shortly!
A big thank you has to go out to our hosts for the week, Dreisbach Boothaus, KRC Captain Andrew Martin for organising such a great location, driving the squad and trailer the entire way, and eating his weight in honey and bread! Coach Danny O'Dowd for organising crews, solid coaching and shouting at everyone! Coxes JP Salter and Rosie Cullen for sitting in the cold for hours on end, and the squad for representing the club impeccably and fully committing to the camp and every outing.
I think I can speak for everyone in saying that the camp was a massive success, with the feeling of training like a professional athlete for a week had to adjust from when going back to work! Hopefully KRC will return to Dreisbach again in the future with future squads as it was the perfect place to focus on what was needed to be done and had the facilities to execute it perfectly.
Check out some pictures from throughout the week below!