Canadian rowers chase a world record

ALISON KORN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

TORONTO - It’s all about breaking a world record.

That was the advice 1984 Olympic bronze medallist boxer Dale Walters had for the current men’s national lightweight rowing squad. Looking to spark some attention and fundraising, the Victoria, B.C.-based athletes recently paid Walters a visit in Vancouver to get some advice.

“I’m all about breaking world records, man,” said Walters, 47, a personal trainer who set his own world record in skip-rope jumping some 10 years ago. “Is there a world record out there that you guys can beat?”

Sure enough, there is: The team record for racing 100 kilometres non-stop on an indoor rowing machine known as the ergometer, set by a British group, is four hours 29 minutes. Eight elite Canadian guys figure that by switching off every 10 to 15 strokes — about every 100 metres — they can go faster.

A video showing the Canadians practising taking turns nimbly hopping on, pulling their guts out and hopping off is on Tim Myers’ blog: timsversion.blogspot.com/ timsversion.blogspot.com.

“We’ve got special straps you put on your feet so one guys just rolls off the erg and another gets on,” explained Myers. “Anywhere from 10 to 12 strokes is what we’re aiming for right now. It’s all about the transitions, pretty much. Our first couple practices were really horrible, guys were falling off and the splits were going way up. After watching the YouTube videos we’ve got a system that doesn’t slow us down too much, so that’s definitely all we’re practising.”

The YouTube videos of the Danish team breaking the 24-hour indoor rowing record last year offered a lesson in transition strategy.

As for Walters, the five-time Canadian champ has raised more than $100,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation by setting the world record in “double under” skip rope jumping — that’s when the skipping rope passes under you twice in one skip. He did over 500 of them in a row.

Walters has pledged the rowers $5 per 100 strokes, figuring they’ll take around 13,000 or 14,000 strokes. The event takes place March 30 in Vancouver. View the event flyer and pledge form at raresrhythm.com/?page_id=464 raresrhythm.com/?page_id=464 .

Triathlete to firefighter

Congrats to Colin Jenkins, the selfless triathlete who helped propel Simon Whitfield to the silver medal as his domestique at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Jenkins was recently hired by the Toronto Fire Department —one of just 37 people hired from the 1,800 who applied.

Perhaps one of the most famous athletes ever to finish last at an Olympic Games, life has moved quickly for the Ontario native since he retired from competition after Beijing. Jenkins has got married, finished school and was recently elected by his peers to be the athlete representative on Triathlon Canada’s board of directors.

Network launched

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) has launched the Women and Leadership Network to support the development and involvement of women leaders in sport and physical activity across Canada. The free resource is at WomenandLeadershipNETWORK.ca womenandleadershipnetwork.ca.

CAAWS has also created a “What Men Can Do” section on the CAAWS website with practical ideas for men, such as encouraging their daughters to stay active or supporting women’s active involvement around the board table. Visit caaws.ca caaws.ca or more information.

Chance to compete

The Dream for 2015 is a development event seeking to garner interest in para-athletics in Ontario by supporting the dream for people with a disability to compete at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto. This Friday and Saturday at Variety Village in Toronto, participants of all ages and abilities are welcome, no specific equipment required, active wear clothing encouraged. Pre-register by contacting para-info@athletics.ca.

Korn’s final column

After eight interesting years of writing this weekly amateur sports column, I’m moving on. Later this month, I’ll be starting a new job in communications for the Canadian Paralympic Committee, committed to sharing the inspiring stories of our Canadian athletes. In farewell, I’d like to say thanks to Sun Media, thanks to all who read and commented, and as always: Go Canada!

alison_korn@hotmail.com


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