JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Larry Abramson has been rowing for nearly four decades and said the sport isn’t exactly what people assume it’s all about.
“To be a good rower is a combination of both endurance, power and also really trying to work well with the team,” Abramson said. “There’s a lot of technical aspects to it. Most people think rowing is all about strong arms and upper body but actually, it’s all about legs.”
Abramson is the President of the Jacksonville Rowing Club.
“I like the team atmosphere where you’re actually having to row together and it’s not an individual thing,” explained Abramson. “There are singles, but I really like rowing in team boats where everyone’s digging together.”
Rowing is one of the oldest sports in the modern-day Olympic games.
“It is probably one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet. They say rowers are some of the fittest athletes,” explained Abramson. “The reason is, we do both sprints and long distances.”
Abramson said rowing requires training both on and off the water.
“Off the water, you’re doing weights, you might be running or biking. You also get on a thing called an ergometer, which is a rowing machine,” said Abramson. “On the water, it’s a combination. It’s usually one out of five, meaning one time you might be doing very, very fast intense rows, the other four times, you’re doing long swing rows, getting into rhythm with your team, really trying to be efficient at a lower stroke rate with those one every five.”
Abramson said the biggest challenge of the sport is the mental aspect.
“I think all athletes out there understand that your body can do more usually than your mind tells you and you really have to buy in and have confidence,” explained Abramson. “That’s what the training is about.”
He said teamwork is key.
“If a crew is working the same, you’re going to be moving much faster,” said Abramson.
But like any sport, there can be unexpected obstacles, including what’s called “catching a crab.”
“You just finished your stroke and you’re leaning back and you’re ready to push down to move the blade out of the water and you’re either too deep or the boat has turned and you can’t get it out of the water,” explained Abramson. “But, the boat is still going 10 miles an hour, 14 miles an hour that way. It will hit you in the rib cage and if you don’t let it come over, you’re in trouble.”
Rowing can also be tough on the hands.
“Even after 40 years of rowing, I’ve got calluses here and here and if I use a different grip, you’re going to see me look like a novice with bleeding blisters everywhere,” said Abramson. “It’s just toughening up your hands and a lot of times, if there are a lot of blisters, it’s a sign you are gripping the oar too tight.”
The Jacksonville Rowing Club has several opportunities to learn more about rowing, including Open House dates and a Learn to Row Program. For more information, visit jaxrow.org.
Our own Vic Micolucci tried to pull his weight with a rowing crew recently. Check out the results below: