I always find these camps pretty tough from a PTSD / Autism point of view. It feels quite intense, being with people all the time, sleeping, eating, training all in a group with no personal space whatsoever.
From a disability point of view, I almost forget I even have one because it is so normalised being in a group of just disabled people. It’s actually quite refreshing in that regard.
The first goal for the coaches was to try and finalise the two teams of 6. Their goal was not to stack one with a view of winning, it was to make both teams of 6 as equal as possible. So we pitched against eachother with a 500m race. The team I was in (in seat 4) was miles ahead. Coach asked us to pull into the Jetty and myself and one of the ladies in the other boat were asked to swap over.
Our squad has a team of 12 and 3 are ladies. Each boat has to have minimum of 2 ladies. The boat I was asked to go to (that was much slower) had 3 ladies in it. I was now in seat 3 instead of seat 4.
We raced 500m again. We were literally neck and neck all the way. Coach was pretty happy and that was how we stayed.
I reflected on what had just happened.
The coaching team decided that because I was quite a bit stronger than all the other women, it was best to put me in the boat with 3 women in it.
Think about this. I was effectively pitched against / compared with a bloke in order to make the two teams more even in power.
For the first time since becoming disabled, I was not the weak link, the person who couldn’t, or who things had to be adapted for. This really is my true sporting whanau!
The other catch with this new seating position (seat 3) is it has extra responsibilities.
The person who was calling the change of sides for the stroke, calls the set and first stroke of the race usually sits in seat 3. 🤯. I was happy to let the person in seat 4 continue to call it, till we realised that the restricted lung capacity associated with his injury meant he literally couldn’t shout loud enough for everyone in the boat to hear his calls. So the job then fell on my shoulders!
My new job
I’m still sitting in the power house position (which is seats 3 and 4) but now I have added responsibilities to learn:
- I am in charge of calling all the paddlers to get ready (paddles set) and have to call the GO when the green flag goes down to start the race.
- I call the ‘hut’ which indicates when all the paddlers swap sides. Ordinarily the #1 paddler starts with their paddle on the right then everyone else alternates 2-5. #6 steers.
- With the hut calls I have to count the strokes and call the change every 12 strokes. But my call has to be timed correctly (1 stroke before) so everyone knows to do one more stroke then they have to change. Timing of my call is key, or it will bugger up everyone’s timing. This can be the difference between winning or losing the race!
No pressure then! But, my loud voice associated with being an ex teacher was what won me this new job! 😆
On Sunday we headed out in the W12 to practice calls, starts and a race plan. Lucky for me the person in the other seat 3 is doing the calling this time!
Races we are doing
- Para mixed V6 500m race – 11 August 11am
- Para mixed V12 500m race – 13 August 9:30am
- Para mixed V6 1000m race – 13 August 12:00pm
This schedule is subject to change so I will post an update if this changes.