When the Snow Falls, Where Does the Trent Rowing Club Go?

Trent University Women's 8+ finishing their race under the Faryon Bridge during HOTT 2019. From left (bow) to right, (stern): Taylor Bryan, Lexi Armstrong, Elisabeth Trickey, Brianna Tombs, Carolyn Culen, Grace VandenBroek, Paige Burns, Tasmin West, Kendal Thompson. Photo courtesy of the Trent University Rowing Club (TURC).

Trent Rowing is one of the oldest and most well known varsity teams at Trent University, offering three teams in the rowing program: Novice, Junior Varsity and Varsity. The team is very competitive and has been designated by Rowing Canada Aviron as one of five universities in Canada that is a NextGen Hub. Trent Rowing has numerous athletes and coaches, both current and past, competing at an international level representing Canada at world championship events.

Brendan Plymale, Vice President Internal Affairs and Men’s Lightweight Rower said, “The team had a very successful OUA season, after that we had athletes go off to Canadian University Rowing Championships (CURC) in British Columbia.”

At CURC, Trent’s Men’s Heavyweight single (M1x), Spencer Kielar, placed third in the A-Final earning him a bronze medal. Trent has high standards for their rowing team, in which all members must retryout every year to make sure they are the best of what Trent has to offer. The team is very inclusive, any student, regardless of experience, is allowed to tryout for a spot on the roster. Students can walk by the river and see the rowers practicing early in the morning. The team practices six to eight times a week on the water during the rowing season, and one to three times off the water or in the gym. This means they are practicing seven to 11 times a week during the competition season, having practices as early as five o’clock in the morning. However, when the snow falls and they can no longer row on the water, where do they go?

In the winter months, the practice schedule slows down a little. Without regattas to prepare for, the team focuses on staying fit and healthy for the coming months. The regular season ends at the beginning of November, and the rowers were lucky this year to end before the snow fell. After the season ends, the team takes a short break before beginning winter training. They start with a standardized test called RADAR, which provides rowers and coaches with information to assess their progress throughout the season and allow rowers to submit these results to make a national team.

“The winter season can feel like a grind,” Plymale admits. “There’s less light and when you’re consistently getting up at the same time, you can have practices that are entirely in the dark.”

During the winter, the rowers start practice around 6 a.m. The goal of winter training is to build strength and put on muscle while maintaining a cardio base. They do this by spinning on a bike or rowing on the indoor rowing machine, called an erg. Sticking to this program allows them to stay healthy for the spring.

When the rowers are not in the gym for practice, they like to be outside as much as possible. Whether it be skiing, hiking or skating, the rowers like to stay active. In fact, Andrew Stewart-Jones, a successful Canadian rower and Trent alumni, who is currently trying out for the 2020 Olympics, founded the Nordic Ski Team during their time at Trent.

On a more philanthropic note, the rowers have been participating in Movember this past month. VPIA Plymale has been leading his team through fundraising and advertising efforts with a focus on men’s mental health and suicide prevention. Trent Rowing has raised about $1,475 at the time of writing this article.

When the snow begins to melt and the ice starts to thaw, Trent Rowers are eager to get back on the water. Every spring, the team hosts an event called “Icebreakers,” an indoor regatta where the rowers compete while they wait for the ice to break. In past seasons, rowers have gotten back on the water as early as mid-March, but most often the team has to wait until late April.

So one might think that the rowers hibernate over the winter, but you don’t get the recognition Trent has by using your skills only during the fall season. Rowers are always busy, whether it be perfecting their rowing stroke, enjoying other sports that Trent has to offer or bringing awareness to good causes.

Plymale praises the team: “Trent Rowing is a super neat team that welcomes everyone. If anyone would like to tryout or get a deeper dive into our day-to-day workouts, you can contact anyone on executive or a head coach and they would be more than happy to show them the ropes.”