Stratford Boat Club pulls together through lockdown
BEING able to adapt has been one of the many challenges facing sports clubs on the Herald patch throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the very first lockdown in March, clubs like Stratford Boat Club have been forced to change the way they operate to ensure they are Covid-compliant.
Even through the resulting tier system and then the second lockdown in November, the Swans Nest Lane club has had to keep a regular eye on British Rowing and government guidance to ensure their facilities were safe for officials, coaches and rowers.
However, after prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the country would enter a third lockdown lasting until mid-February, Stratford BC has once again been forced to shut its doors to all of its members, including its award-winning adaptive squad.
Despite all of what 2020 had to throw at them, the club has battled through that adversity and is looking for more of that "bouncebackability" when the lockdown eventually comes to an end.
Now all indoor training and exercise is prohibited, the club will take a decision on loaning out ergos and static rowers to members, as it did during the first and second lockdowns.
This proved a great success and enables athletes to keep up their training and exercise levels.
“The only encouraging ray of light during the previous Tier 4 restrictions had been that rowing and exercise for the club’s junior squads had been allowed to continue,” said junior co-ordinator Steve Wellstead.
“However, this has also now come to an abrupt halt and those who coach the junior squads will be working with them remotely to set personalised training plans and squad sessions.
“This proved very successful during the last two lockdowns and helped immensely with morale as well as physical fitness.”
Stratford BC has for some time run weekly Zoom circuit sessions tailored to the athletes' capabilities.
There are separate sessions for juniors and adults led by a Stratford BC member who is also a fully qualified level three personal trainer and level three GP referral specialist.
Being a keen and experienced rower, the trainer understands what athletes go through to achieve goals and works with club coaches to help athletes attain and maintain a high level of fitness.
Sadly, one of the squads most affected by the new lockdown has been the award-winning adaptive squad.
Head adaptive coach Mark Dewdney said: “We have had to curtail adaptive rowing for the moment during the lockdown, but we will be reviewing this as soon as we hear that restrictions might be lifted.
“The challenges of getting adaptive athletes onto the water are considerable and labour-intensive, requiring many coaches, volunteers and safety cover.
“However, we will continue to speak regularly through Zoom and have quiz sessions. Each adaptive athlete has their own personalised specific training plan to keep up their fitness.”
Club president Paul Stanton added: “Whilst physical fitness is most important, mental wellbeing and wellness is perhaps even more important during this lockdown whilst we are so heavily restricted.
“This is especially important for our younger members who are now away from their school and other friends for a long time.
"We are so lucky that coaches will still be in regular touch with their squads, working with them on their fitness regimes and training schedules.
“We look forward to the time when we can return to some organised rowing activity on the water and outside, not only for juniors, but for seniors and masters as well.
“We are especially grateful to the coaches and volunteers who have stepped up to fill the gaps in the juniors’ training and exercise.
“We are in weekly contact with all members through our club newsletter and I and others are telephoning colleagues to see how they are.
"Rowing will return, but maybe there will be changes to minimise any future disruptions.”