Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Boys in the Boat

Since last week we have read 278 pages. We are mesmerized. Every coach, teacher, manager and leader is well advised to pick up a copy. Chapter 7 begins with another quote from George Yeoman Pocock. Pocock was THE premier builder of racing shells in the world in the 1930’s. He was a student of the sport and a master of his craft. He reminds us of our own James “Doc” Counsilman, another GREAT student and master. We consider ourselves fortunate to have known the latter. We know it would have been an honor to know Pocock.

“Rowing a race is an art, not a frantic scramble. It must be rowed with head power as well as hand power. From the first stroke all thoughts of the other crew must be blocked out. Your thoughts must be directed to you and your own boat, always positive, never negative.”

Author Daniel James Brown recounts Joe Rantz’s observation of a CAL- Washington varsity race. Joe was a freshman at Washington but was being taught the lessons that would serve him well in coming years. The lesson was this. Writes Brown, “To defeat an adversary who was your equal, maybe even your superior, it wasn’t necessary enough just to give your all from the start to finish. You had to master your opponent mentally. When the critical moment in a close race was upon you, you had to know something he did not – that down in your core you still had something reserve, something you had not yet shown, something that once revealed would make him doubt himself, make him falter just when it counted the most. Like so much in life, crew was partly about confidence, partly about knowing your own heart.”

At the end of the day, competitive swimming isn’t about times. It is about what we learn about ourselves when we race with/against others. Learn those lessons and all the laps will have been worth it.

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