A Day in the Life of a Coxswain

Students at Merion Mercy Academy have busy schedules filled with club meetings, homework, and after school practice. Along with the majority of the student body, the rowing team has active schedules. With the team practicing from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. every night, it is difficult to balance both schoolwork and rowing. I interviewed Amy Werner, a senior coxswain, to get insight on how she manages her schedule on a daily basis. Amy committed to the University of Texas and won the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in the lightweight four boat last spring. 

The night before a rowing practice, Amy prepares her crew bag; items in her crew bag include a cox box, a microphone, an outfit, lights, a speed coach, and most importantly, snacks. Merion rowers enjoy eating GoGo squeezes, fruit bars, and granola bars as light snacks before practices. Amy knows how extremely important the cox box and microphone are for coxswains to have out on the water, so each morning she remembers to put her crew bag in her car. 

 During practice, coxswains need to stay focused for the boat to run smoothly. The job of a coxswain is to steer the boat and instruct the rowers. In Amy’s own words, “Coxswains make technical calls, give the rowers what split (how hard) they are pulling, what rate (how many strokes per minute they’re taking,) how many meters they have left in a piece/race, and where they are in terms of other boats.” Rowers arrive to practice at around three thirty, which gives them enough time to warm up their muscles for an intense practice. The warmup is a one mile jog to the Girard Bridge and back. When Amy arrives at practice, she makes sure to bring all her equipment down in the boat bay. After this, she warms up for practice by going on a jog with another coxswain and stretching her muscles. It is Amy’s job to instruct putting the boat in the water in an orderly fashion. She does this by telling the rowers to, “Go up over heads”, and “Split to shoulders.” This process is precise because boats are extremely delicate and expensive. Then, the rowers slowly lower the boat into the water and push off the dock for a workout.

Amy says that she “Loves the structure that rowing practices provide.” With two hours of practice a day, she has to make the most out of each school day to complete her schoolwork. Amy mentions that her main tip to balancing schoolwork and crew is to utilize her study periods; this helps lighten the workload in the evening. This is useful because it is essential to get enough sleep in order to stay focused for practice. 

Rowers sprint out of school after the last bell because they want to get to practice early in order to complete a warmup. Merion rows out of the Malta boathouse, which is about a twenty minute drive from campus. One of the things Amy loves most about participating in rowing are these drives to the boathouse. She says that she has, “so many fun memories from over the years,” of the car rides to and from practices. In addition, she mentions that the ride to Malta is absolutely beautiful and provides her an opportunity to clear her mind and prepare for a successful practice.