Stratford-upon-Avon (probably the UK adaptive squad with the most PR1 athletes) ran a PR1 capsize drill inviting other PR1’s from around the country. Squad Coach and a leader in UK adaptive rowing, Mark Dewdney documented and shared his valuable insights and learnings after the successful event:
PR1 rowers present several particular issues:
1. Only one PR1 should be in the pool at any time. An attendant swimmer during the swim test. An in-water attendant during the “tread water” exercise, Plus a pool side watcher in each case. My general rule for the swim test is the candidate should only swim as far as they can without becoming exhausted.
2. An effective capsize is very difficult to achieve with the stabilisers in place. These were not used.
3. 4 attendants in the water for the capsize with pre-allocated tasks. Two to achieve capsize. One to watch the rower underwater to detect any immediate safety issues and fully understand the person’s actions (must be equipped with goggles). Plus another to assist in any recovery. The number of practice capsizes is more than a little dependent on the following 2 paragraphs. Decide based on the agility etc of those involved. We only did one fully-strapped capsize per each PR1 candidate.
4. Co-ordination of the PR1s amongst any other candidates is important. Consider the fitness of the individual in timing of the exercise. Consider the issue of getting cold between exercises. Consider potential skin damage in wet and cold kit – a real issue for those with paralysis. The whole process should be planned to be completed in the minimum time commensurate with the fitness of the person concerned. You may consider changing the standard order of the drill in line with this overall aim.
5. Extraction from the water is a large issue. We had a specialist chair that winds up and down which assists in this process. Lack of an effective method for some candidates may both tire them and take considerable time. Pool extraction should be planned in advance with full knowledge of the individuals concerned. See recommendation below. This element impinges on the issue in #4. Further comments about PR1 safety below.
6. Consider changing clothes issues. We had a shower wheelchair ready for use. For those with paralysis getting off clingy wet clothing may be a lengthy process. It may also acquire appropriate assistance. This has potential safeguarding concerns and should be considered. Best to have family members etc to assist if required, Sibford has 2 sets of changing rooms which helps to maintain privacy. All should ask candidates to come beach ready
To help with pool extraction of PR1s etc and possibly use in other areas I have been thinking of purchasing the item shown in this video – This would give a rapid method of pool extraction for those that need it. It is £735 + VAT at the moment, I would have one already if I had got some funding. It is not a “sexy” item and thus hard to get funding for. This could be used for community drills and overcome some of difficulties defined above.
There is a general fixation for athletes to hold on to the boat as the boat is tipped over. Both PR1 candidates yesterday had to use a considerable amount of their energies to maintain this contact post capsize. This is, of course, very individual but the drill does reveal what is the safest regime for each individual. In my opinion, in some cases, maintaining contact with the boat may well be counterproductive and lead to very quick loss of energy. Just floating may be the safer position and allows the rescuers to act appropriately without the casualty thrashing about. In these cases, risk should be mitigated on the river by appropriate launch and other protocols.
We did not practice righting.
At the end of the day, we now have 6 more adaptive rowers passing their drill. 6 more that through follow on potential changes in risk assessments and safety protocols will be safer on the water.