In order to accommodate the US Soccer Team’s winter training trip in San Diego, eleven rowers have temporarily relocated to the Midwest, to train at Oklahoma City’s National High Performance Center. There’s little evidence of the epic cold temps and blizzards that plagued Oklahoma last week. Instead, the snow has melted, the sun is shining, and temperatures are hovering around 70F. Hurray!
The growth of rowing in Oklahoma City has been nothing short of miraculous. Eight years ago, the Oklahoma River (a stretch of the North Canadian River) was nothing more than a weed-filled drainage ditch. Today, the entire Oklahoma City community has embraced rowing as their new favorite sport.
Three energy companies, Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, and OGE, are essentially competing to build the nicest, most modern, state-of-the-art boathouses across the street from one another. A new $5 million finish line tower is currently being constructed, and a 2k-long wind fence is scheduled to be erected. Along with the full-fledged support of the City administration, Oklahoma City University, and many corporate and private donors, the Oklahoma City Boathouse District is well on its way to becoming an elite rowing mecca. Check out their vision at http://boathousedistrict.org.
We are currently training out of the newly-built Devon Boathouse, without a doubt the most modern rowing facility I’ve ever seen. Among its many amenities is an “Altitude Room”, where athletes can work out, nap, or play the Xbox at 12,000 feet. There’s also the world’s first “Dynamic Propulsion” tank (like a super-fancy treadmill for rowers), 50 brand-new ergs, sliders, and Oartecs, a great weight room, and at least 17 huge flatscreen TVs (and more on the way!) scattered throughout the boathouse.
The hospitality of the Oklahoma City community definitely exceeded our expectations: We love our apartment situation (Our own bedroom! Our own bathroom! Our own TV! Laundry! Free internet!), and we were doubly excited by the Welcome Baskets left on our bedside tables (Tshirt! Granola! Fresh chocolate-chip cookies!)
Last night, the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation hosted a reception in our honor, where we met the many movers-and-shakers of Oklahoma City, including Mayor Mick Cornett, and Bart Connors (legendary gymnast and 1984 gold medalist). A highlight of the evening: Mike Knopp, the Executive Director of the OKC Boathouse Foundation, presenting us with authentic Oklahoman cowboy hats!
I’m looking forward to another week of training in Oklahoma. On tomorrow’s schedule: lactate testing!