The post “Myths of Adaptive Rowing” was quite extensive, but that doesn’t mean that there are some scary aspects to the sport that are actually quite true and worthy of consideration.
- Water Safety Imperative: Safety is always a pre-eminent consideration for any water sport (sailing, rowing, diving, swimming) as any significant problem can lead not just to injury, but very quickly to fatality from drowning. Extra consideration is typically taken with vulnerable groups such as novices, juniors and disabled athletes. Adaptive athletes also might have acute sensitivity to hypothermia which can affect their ability to respond to capsizes. While foot release is a requirement for all conventional rowers, in most capsizes, rowers’ feet just slide out most times any way. Fixed seat athletes have extra strapping to secure them into the boat and an active effort to undo the straps is always required. The good news is that the extra precautions required to ensure safety of fixed seat rowers (eg. capsize drills, close safety cover) are well understood and straightforward to follow.
- Higher Equipment Expense: Adaptive equipment is more expensive than conventional kit. It costs more to produce specialty items in small batches. And with the adaptive community being small, there are very few items that you can find second-hand (which is often a way to get kit less expensively). The good news is (as noted in the “Myths” post) that many charities and funding sources exist that are quite generous and willing to support the purchase of adaptive equipment.
- Heavier Requirement for Coaching Resources: Most adaptive rowers train and compete in singles because it is difficult to match up impairments that can work with each other in a crew boat. An impairment is going to complicate how the conventional rowing stroke is performed and two different impairments is going to compound the difficulty more than twice as much. As a result, you often need multiple coaches (or at least safety launch drivers) for multiple boats on the water going at different rates. Furthermore, as noted under Water Safety Imperative – fixed seat athletes have some more pronounced risks and require more closely dedicated supervision. The good news is (as noted in the “Myths” post) that is it generally easier to find volunteer coaches and supporter in a club and community for adaptive rowing.
- Limited Support Resources from British Rowing: Some clubs hope that if they want to start an adaptive programme, it is the kind of thing that British Rowing has resources to come in and help them out with funds and guidance. Part of this expectation stems from previous years when BR did have more resources for such initiatives. But the budgets at BR have been more restricted in recent years and both funding and manpower assist clubs in this area is very limited. Adaptive is a small part of the sport so hard to justify too many resources at this stage. The good news is (as noted in the “Myths” post) that this area is important to British Rowing and they will help in any way they can, and furthermore hopefully their new LoveRowing initiative will generate more resources to assist.
Anyone who has read the “The World According to Garp”, will recall the “Under Toad”. Garp feared an ocean monster called the “Under Toad”. As a child, he had misheard the term “Under Tow” that so many adults seemed to be obsessively fearful of and he thought it was some aquatic beast that would devour him. Be aware of the false threats of the “Under Toads”, but do beware of the real threats of the “Under Tow”.