Introducing Alex _________________________________________
In February at pretty much one of the only senior head races we’ve had this season we met Alex, Alex came down to meet the crews and spend some time with Fred. Luckily, he started at the right time, getting to know all the squads and take over from Fred. Making sure we’ve had circuits planned and sent out everyday during the lockdown. So, let’s meet Alex Brown in stroke above, the new Head Coach of Curlew;
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.
What can people do to keep rowing ready while off the water? The best thing to do is to keep fit, either by doing the training I set or any other physical activity that you enjoy, as much as possible. Secondly, keep motivated, stay positive. Although we’re not sure what the future rowing season will look like or when it will start, it’s important to keep in mind that eventually it WILL start again. So, to keep training at home in the knowledge that it will count towards your rowing in the future is really important I think.
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.
What would you like to do first when we finally get back onto the water? Quite simply, get back out and remember how to row! Honestly, go for a fun paddle, put some distance under the belt without pressure. I firmly believe that after being off the water for so long, it’s important to reconnect with training and rowing in the right way, and without risking the chance of injury (as many muscle groups won’t have been used in the same way for a while)