And they’re back! Well, on the way at least. With the last July guidelines from the UK government, the latest guidance from British Rowing, and the several weeks of experience of single sculling under COVID19 protocols at Marlow Rowing Club, the club is starting to phase in pararowers onto the water carefully and under protocols which conform to the existing guidelines.
In the pararowing arena, we have seen the following categories of adaptive athletes able to return to the water:
- 1Standard Protocol – The key constraint to getting paras on the water has been the general requirement to eliminate contact between people through social distancing. This constraint primarily affects two aspects of rowing: (1) boating (getting on the water), and (2) capsizing (getting off the water). In both cases, the first wave of athletes on the water were those that were able to both boat onto the water and self-rescue from a capsize without any assistance from a coach or support person. As it happens, 3 of Marlow’s pararowing squad met this criterion because they had mild enough physical impairments (two were VI) and they were very accomplished scullers (international standard).
- Accommodated Standard Protocol – This past week our second wave of pararowers on the water still passed the key test of ability to self-rescue; however, we did make some more flexible provisions. One of the reasons for the extended flexibility is that Marlow has been operating under strict protocols for several weeks and had learned a lot and refined a number of aspects. As a result, the club felt comfortable in the operation of the COVI19 protocol and felt it could start to introduce other rowers.
- Household Safety Cover – One adaptive athlete had a father who was RYA launch driver certified and we allowed that athlete to boat as long as his father was monitoring and able to effect rescue (there were questions about the athlete’s ability to self-rescue).
- Boating Assist – The club had determined that assisted transport of singles (2 people at each end) could easily manage the 2 metre rule and sanitizing points of contact was relatively easy. This enabled our rowers with mild mobility and visual impairment problems to boat with some assistance in getting the boat on the water.
- Sculling Experience – We had a couple of athletes that were new to sculling. While they could meet all of the other standard requirements for boating under the “Standard Protocol”, we were nonetheless apprehensive about putting them on the water. We wanted to wait until the protocols were well exercised so reduce the risks of have them out.
RISK ASSESSMENT – One requirement of adding the new pararowers to the water session was that a special risk assessment (RA) needed to be performed for the squad. The objective of the RA was to assess both (a) the risk of virus transmission, and (b) the risks introduced to the safety of the pararower due to the coronavirus protocols (ie. would any of the requirements for sanitization, self-rescue, single sculling add to the rower’s risk of injury or other harm).
PROTOCOL BRIEFING AND CONSENT – Another requirement for all Marlow athletes was to attend a Zoom briefing on the club’s coronavirus protocol. The club Chairman and Captain held special briefing sessions for the para squad with slides and discussion tailored to their situation and issues. At the end of the briefing, athletes are required to provide written confirmation to the club safety officer that they accept the requirements of boating and commit to abide by the protocols.
Below are links to download the documents Marlow RC is using as a part of returning the paras to the water: