Alex Brown, Head Coach
Where did you learn to row? I learned to row at the age of 16 at my school in Durham (Durham School). Prior to that I was a swimmer, water polo player, runner and rugby player. Whilst training I was spotted for my generic fitness and anthropometrics; and then thrust straight into ergs and wobbly boats at 7am! Coming from a background of playing/competing each weekend, rowing was very different in that you train for weeks (or months) at a time before actually competing. It certainly taught me more about patience, planning and resilience. Within a year I was put on the junior high-performance programme at Durham University whilst as school. This definitely opened up my world to elite rowing for the first time. From there I rowed at HRR twice and at British Championships, narrowly missing a medal.
When did you start coaching, and what coaching have you done before Curlew? I started coaching at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh during my second year at Edinburgh University. I did this for two years. Prior to this I’d helped out at summer camps and training camps. In terms of coaching a Club at this level, this is certainly a first. In fact, I’ve had more training and training to coach from other exploits in other sports and military pursuits. Much of my knowledge derives from my own experience. That said, I’m working with British Rowing to go attain the certification of Coaching Levels (when Covid passes).
You came to Curlew at an interesting time, what’s been the biggest challenge so far? Yes, well nothing like a challenge!? The hardest thing has definitely been trying to lead a highly motivated group of rowers through a ‘Quarantine Training Plan’, in such an uncertain time. As rowers, you need a boat and water to row on. In quarantine, we (like most other clubs) are deprived from both. There’s not been a time (in our lifetime) where these circumstances have been so prevalent; so, there is no ‘guidelines’ as to how to go about training in these conditions. We are literally writing the rule book – this is both exciting and scary.
Can you sum up your coaching philosophy? My coaching philosophy would involve tailoring the athlete to the training as much as possible in the way of individual coaching. In terms of broad fitness and conditioning, it’s simple: ‘miles makes champions’. This applies to both in the gym and on the water. Albeit utilizing these ideals and applying them can be difficult when we are a club of working Professionals first, Athletes second, I would argue that it is because our members are so motivated to come down and train around their professional working hours, that when they can, they will put in the quality work and focus to become the best rowers and all-round athletes our members can be.