Tony Andrews is a master's athlete (and Craftsbury regular) from the Seattle area. Like many masters, he has a full plate: Board of Directors at Sammamish, new business ventures, family commitments, training - you name it. I contacted him last week and he was gracious enough to give me some of his time to answer some questions.
How'd you get into rowing/sculling? Do you primarily row or scull?
In 1996, when I was 36, I had just moved from Boulder to Seattle. I had been running competitively for 6 years, but running had become a challenge due to a knee injury. My wife heard about a learn-to-row class at Sammamish Rowing Association, so I decided to give it a try. I learned to row in an 8+, but I always had my eye on the singles in the boathouse. The club didn't have any novice sculling classes at that time, but my sweep coach agreed to help me get started one weekend in an old wherry and I was hooked. I'm currently in a group that sweeps & sculls, but my preference is sculling.
Sammamish seems to have a big presence in the rowing world. What's one thing that you see your club doing especially well that other clubs could learn from?
One of the things I like most about SRA is the strong bond between our masters' and juniors' programming. Many parents take up the sport after watching their kids compete, and it works the other way too - a lot of our masters' rowers have gotten their kids involved. On several occasions I've seen quads on the water with rowers all from a single family. I think this has contributed a lot to the amazing growth we've seen since SRA was founded in 1995.
If I'm looking to make a trip and experience Pacific Northwest rowing culture/racing, what's the event/location or club that I should be sure not to miss?
Our Northwest Masters' Regional Championship regatta in June has been very successful. We draw a lot of competitors from Canada and California, so it's become more like a west coast championship in the last few years. The Opening Day regatta in May is always an amazing spectacle, with huge crowds lining the Montlake Cut in Seattle, with junior, collegiate, and masters events in a highly compressed schedule. For the juniors, the Brentwood regatta in Canada is an incredible experience and a great venue for spectators.
Do you row to train or to race? i.e. what role does competition play in your rowing?
When I was running a lot, I always organized my training around upcoming races. For me, competition is the best way to measure my progress and keep me motivated. I approach rowing the same way. I love to race and I like to start each season with a good idea of what the major races will be for me that year.
I know that you used to work with Marlene Royle's coaching service. Do you still? Can you tell us a bit about how that worked, both in terms of organization of your program as well as your experience of it?
Marlene is a great coach. I met her at Craftsbury in 1999 and started using her coaching service in 2004. She creates custom training plans tailored to each rower's weekly schedule and the regattas they plan to attend. Between 2004 and 2007 I was competing mostly in the single and Marlene's training plans ensured that every workout had a purpose and was part of a coordinated overall plan. This was incredibly helpful since I was rarely getting any coaching on the water. Last year, I re-joined a competitive sweep/sculling group at SRA, so I haven't been using Marlene's program, but we still exchange email periodically and I recommend her service highly.
What's your average training week look like?
I practice with a large group at 5am on MWF mornings - some sweep, some sculling. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings a few of us go to the boathouse at 5am to row singles and doubles, depending on who's there. I usually try to get out one day on the weekends as well. When I'm not rowing with a class, I try to make my workouts complementary to what the class has been doing - alternating harder & easier days, and throwing in drills as appropriate. Sometimes I fall back on workouts from my time with Marlene to keep things focused.
When did you first attend Craftsbury? You've been here several times, why keep coming back?
I first attended Craftsbury in 1999. I didn't get back again until 2004, but I've come for a week every year since then. For the last three years, I've come to Craftsbury with my son, so it's been fun to spend time with him (and to race against him in the Head of the Hosmer). Now that I'm coaching, I also like to come back to get new ideas and learn new drills to use back at home. Last year, we had a group of eight of us from SRA at Craftsbury, which was wonderful.
Could you talk with us a bit about the work you've been doing with cell phones and rowing?
Cell phones are truly amazing devices and most of us use only a small fraction of their power. Many current models have large, bright displays, and some are now equipped with built-in GPS receivers, accelerometers, and WiFi. About a year ago, I started thinking about how these new capabilities could be used to effectively replace or enhance many of the custom-built devices that we use to monitor performance in rowing and other sports.
I started working on a couple of products along these lines last year and recently co-founded "PerformancePhones, LLC" with a couple of like-minded partners to create and market mobile applications for monitoring performance in aquatic sports (and eventually others). We're currently beta testing an application that turns any Java-enabled phone into a full-featured rowing stopwatch, complete with multiple timers, stroke rate measurement (with optional voice readout), and wireless data export. Our next product should begin testing later in the year.
Do you have a session on the water that's most memorable and why?
At the 2000 Masters Nationals regatta in California, I had the opportunity to go for a short row with the US Women's 8+. It was unlike anything I'd ever felt on the water - incredibly powerful and smooth. It was hard to get back in a boat with "mere mortals" after that.
Favorite place to row
A couple of years ago I was on a business trip to Cambridge, England. I met the president of the Rob Roy boat club and he let me take out one of their singles a couple of times while I was there. That was quite an experience.
Best advice you've gotten
I met Rob Slocum at Craftsbury in 2004 and he suggested I sign up for Marlene Royle's coaching service - that was great advice.
I have two sets of Concept 2 sculls, but I'm thinking about buying a set of Crokers.
I've had a Fluidesign for about 3 years now and have been really happy with it. Their customer service is great.
Biggest rowing hotbed: Northwest or Northeast
Our biggest challenge in the Northwest is the lack of good 1k & 2k venues. We have very few options to work with, so there aren't as many racing opportunities as I'd like - particularly in the spring. But I think the rowing programs at all levels in the northwest have grown tremendously since I started rowing and are very competitive with the east coast crews.
Winter training: erg or cross-training
I like to do a lot of running in the off-season. This year I had a foot injury so I had to spend the winter on the erg.
Seahawks or Mariners
Mariners - I don't like crowds, so I only like to go to a game if I have great seats. For one game every year, we get "Diamond Club" seats in the second row behind home plate.
Vista or XP
I use Vista currently, but I actually prefer XP. I worked at Microsoft for 11 years, but I have to admit that there isn't much in Vista to get excited about.
Deep dish or thin crust
Deep dish from Bacino's in Chicago