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Jan. 22, 2019
6:05 pm


Northern crews migrating to Lanier for winter, spring training

By Jane Harrison
Northern visitors to Lake Lanier last month shrugged off the bitter cold that kept most boaters indoors. Rowers from states with iced-over lakes enjoyed miles of open water during traditional winter break training in the hospitable South.
“Gainesville is empty (rowing-wise) in January and we enjoy exclusive access and treatment all around. I know folks in Gainesville get a bit nervous with cold and ice, let alone snow, but for us it’s great regardless,” said Frank Biller, University of Virginia Crew Coach. A Cavalier crew of 60 rowers and three coaches came down from frozen Charlottesville for their ninth training camp on Lanier. They scrimmaged one afternoon with a hardy crew of 30 from Notre Dame.
“It was quite cold actually, but we cope with that pretty well,” Biller said. “In terms of rowing on the water, we did miss a few days, but that is not a big deal.” Rowers sweated it out in morning workouts on ergometers, “ergs,” provided by the Lake Lanier Rowing Club at the Olympic Park boathouse.

They got out on the water some afternoons, chowed down at Brenau University dining facilities, and rested at The Guest House Gainesville lodge. The Notre Dame crew stayed in cottages at Don Carter State Park. Biller called the Lake Lanier gig a “perfect arrangement,” one that tops offers from Florida and elsewhere.
The first two collegiate crews on the lake this year began the annual migration of rowers who train in winter and early spring on Lanier. LLRC registered about 700 college athletes and coaches who will use its facilities and support before the outdoor rowing season gets into full swing in late March.
LLRC reported that Ithaca College in New York plans to shuttle 90 rowers down, making it the largest training crew on Lanier this year. The University of Michigan has 70 rowers on its camp roster. Other colleges planning to come include the U.S. Naval Academy, 65, Case Western, 55, University of Maryland Loyola, 54, and University of New Hampshire, Hamilton College, and Branksome Hall, from Canada, with 50 each. Several other colleges with smaller crews will head down.
“LLRC provides storage for the crews, motor boats for the coaches, and rowing machines for on-land training,” said John Morrison, LLRC training camp coordinator. “We’ll put in the buoys on the race course for the crews coming in March. The main thing we offer is access for rowing shells to miles upon miles of row-able water.”
Many of the crews use local facilities for off-the water workouts, Morrison said, including swimming at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, weightlifting at local gyms and hiking/trail running on trails in state parks and the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Training camp away from school and busy schedules boosts rowers’ mental focus and preparation, Biller said. “A successful training camp does not require rowing all the time and we happily dedicated training time indoors on the ergs. Thanks to the excellent facilities as well as (LLRC) hospitality, we have access to all this equipment.”    
He also noted advantages of practicing on the same waters where collegiate rowers will stroke for the top spot this spring. “Our team is already looking forward to the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship on Memorial Day weekend in May,” he said, “another reason to train there in January.” 

Posted online 1/29/18
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