Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
07/12 2009

Rowing with Scott and Terry

terry-scott-and-daveIf you follow these blogs like a book, which I know millions of you do, than you will know that I promised to give an update after my next row with Scott – the row Terry joined us for.  Well, it was just as fun as the first row only we had Terry following us in his launch getting us even more excited to be back on the water.  Just what we needed, an outside source to encourage us!  That morning the heats at World Cup II were running, and Terry had all the stats ready for us on the water.

It was just like we had never left…

Posted in All Blogs, Family
07/6 2009

Home Renovations

Rachel and Mira went to the mainland for a birthday party yesterday and I got to stay home alone and build things with my power tools.  I am renovating the office/guest room now that we have the new roof on.  I have to finish this room before I can start the nursery.  Yes – Junior’s due date is September 14.  People, the clock is ticking. 

It is awesome to build something with my own hands again.  The Tillicum house was fun at first because lifting it and putting in a suite was getting my little family ahead financially.  It got old into the third year though.  By the fourth year renovations nearly put me in my grave.  I think I also asked a favour of every one of my friends and family, especially the strong ones. I am trying to pay them all back one at a time.

We can see ourselves in this house for a long time.  Maybe even past our children’s high school graduation.  So the projects I work on here have to be Perfect – or as close to it as I can.  Yesterday I framed and hung a double pocket door.  Somehow I managed to electrocute myself doing it, go figure.  The doors meet up perfectly and look great.  It only took ten hours to accomplish.

I have two of the walls framed and ready for the new LowE windows I ordered.  They should arrive in a week or two, by then I should have the other two walls ready.  You never know, I might just have the room ready by the time my dad visits in August…and the nursery might be ready by September.

I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in All Blogs
06/26 2009

The King of Pop is Dead

thriller-michael-jacksonMichael Jackson, 1959 – 2009.  Rest in Peace.

In an age of constant change, few events significantly impact me anymore.  In my office I heard colleagues comparing Jackson’s death to the death of Elvis.  Well, I remember the day the Challenger blew up, I remember the day Princess Diana was killed, and I will always remember the day Michael Jackson died.

I don’t have to dust off my Michael Jackson collection, it pops up as “most played” on my ipod.  Love him or leave him, there was no one like Michael Jackson.  It’s sad that it takes his death for his work to be fully appreciated.

06/24 2009

Father’s Day Cultural Experience

cowichan-spirit-pole-021This past Sunday was Father’s Day, but it was also National Aboriginal Day here in Canada. A year ago Sunday, Prime Minister Steven Harper historically apologized to the survivors of Residential Schools in Canada – acknowledging the Government of Canada’s oppression of First Nations’ culture and families.

In stark contrast, this Sunday I awoke to the sound of whispers coming from Mira’s room, interspersed with the crinkling of paper. My girls delivered my morning latte to me in bed with a special poem folded up and a “love-bug” piece of artwork from Mira. Blissfully we lounged until it was time to start our day.

I had been invited to speak at a Act Now BC Road to 2010 activation event in Duncan, BC, that coincided with the ceremonial unveiling of a Spirit Pole. We had no idea the cultural experience we were about to witness.

When I give talks I tell people about the importance of role models in my life. It took hundreds of people to lift me onto the Olympic stage. My message to kids is to have wild and crazy dreams, but to back them a solid plan. I’ll often point out the teachers and parents in the room as resources to them. In other words, I talk about community.cowichan-spirit-pole-009

This last Sunday, on the traditional territory of the Cowichan Tribes, Rachel, Mira and I witnessed the meaning of community in action. In front of a crowd of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike, the Chief, Council and Elders of the Cowichan Tribes unveiled a new Spirit Pole commemorating the 2008 North American Aboriginal Games. Special guests at the ceremony included the Duncan Mayor and Council and Minister Abbott, BC’s Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

Last August the Cowichan Valley was the sporting place to be – not Beijing after all. They played host to the North American Indigenous Games, boasting undisputedly that their games were the best games ever. But the Cowichan Tribes wanted to draw a larger community into the games, and they wanted to share their culture with other communities across BC and around the world, including non-aboriginal communities. Their torch relay turned into a touring collaboration Spirit Pole.

Carey Newman was commissioned to be the master carver/artist of a cedar log from Stanley Park, which toured across BC for 13-weeks stopping in 51 different communities. Thousands of people from across BC shared in carving a bit of what has grown into the beautiful Spirit Pole on permanent display outside the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.

cowichan-spirit-pole-014The power of this project and the pride of the people involved were so clear to all present at the ceremony. Bearing witness of the event was humbling and left me wishing I had been involved, even just in a small way. There were leftover shavings from the pole in the crevasses of the trailer it traveled on. I was tempted to take one for prosperity but my reverence for the process gave me a sense of pride simply to witness the community’s achievement.

To the people of the Cowichan Tribes, and specifically those involved in the creation of the Spirit Pole, you have accomplished something of cultural significance that will be shared with generations to come. Congratulations.

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
06/18 2009

It’s just like riding a bike


Scott has been in town for a few days staying with us. It’s a treat to have him here. He and I often find ourselves reliving stories from last summer – going over races as if they happened yesterday. You can see us here socializing.

I’ve been rowing my single as often as I can, and I have been working up my volume. Initially I just touched the ends of the lake and headed in. Then I spent a few mornings doing the typical Rowing Canada warm up: paddle up to point one, pressure pyramid to the bottom of the channel, stretch the hamstrings to the island, and then a pressure pyramid on the square back up to point one. Finally I moved into doing the warm up and a work run or two. That’s when my blisters came back. On Monday I joined in with the entire team for their 7:30 AM row. Mike programmed 5 work runs for the boys – of which I completed two and a half.

I’m glad to have the option to train in the single, but it became clear to me this morning that I love the 2-.

This morning Scott and I jumped into the 2- for the first time since the Olympics. We went on the water before the guys showed up for the team row – and had just enough time to getting 10K under our belts. Surprise, surprise, we had to throw in a few sparkers before heading into the dock. We did a 3 and 10 up into the mid 30s that went fairly well – it was a ton of fun. So we did another. And then Scott wanted to do a longer one. We ended up doing a 3, 10 and 10. Hitting the mid 30s and then reaching up into the low 40s.

It was like we hadn’t missed a day. So we’re doing it again tomorrow – only the dynamic duo will be joined by their coach Terry Paul in the morning.

Update to follow.

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
06/4 2009



Well, it finally happened to me. I knew it was only a matter of time…

I had just started a big project at home when I looked out the window and there, walking up my front steps, were two semi-official looking people. My first thought went to Jehovah Witnesses or maybe Mormons. Looking closer I recognized one of them: Joanne, a very friendly master’s rower from the local club.

What on earth was she doing on my doorstep? Then it hit me, and I blurted out: “Oh S**t in front of five-year-old daughter: I had been randomly selected for “out-of-competition” drug testing.

Joanne is a Doping Control Officer for the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. Her husband Dave, who I had never met before, accompanied her as the CCES Athlete Chaperone; aka, the guy who was going to watch me pee.

See, as a Canadian Olympic Athlete I have to provide a quarterly report of my daily locations, known to athletes as their Whereabouts Form. For each of the 90 or so days in a quarter I have to provide general locations, like home, the office and the lake, but I also have to provide a 60 minute window on every-single-day of where I’ll be, guaranteed.

When I saw them, my first reaction was to lock the door and pretend I wasn’t home.  Have you ever had to pee for a perfect stranger? Well, try peeing for a perfect stranger while your shirt is tucked under your chin and your shorts are at your ankles. They call it “Knees to Navel” and are quite serious about it. 

It reached 32 degrees yesterday and I was dehydrated.  My first “specimen” looked more like a Guinness than apple juice. I only coughed up 50 ml of a required 100 ml on my first go-round. I drank all 3 and half litres that the testers brought…and nothing. Rachel looked around the house and found an extra 3 litres of bottled water for me. Trying to hurry things along, I over compensated and drank them all. Although my second specimen was a mere 20 ml, twenty minutes later my third specimen was overwhelmingly enough – indeed, nearly overflowing.

But it’s not just peeing in front of strangers or even the invasion of privacy that bothers me. Yeah, collecting pee samples at the table can disrupt dinner. Sure I had plans for that hour and a half that Dave and Joanne were in my home. And yes, it was annoying to have to pee every fifteen minutes for the next 8 hours. But what bothers me most about drug tests is not-knowing the results.

There are many stories of athletes testing positive but claiming their supplements were contaminated, the meat they ate was pumped full of steroids or that it wasn’t their action at fault (snowboarder…). It bothers me that I can be as clean as a whistle and still be scared out of my wits of a positive test. What if the tea I drank was bad? What if there was something in the protein powder I had in my shake? It’s 1,000,000 times worse than the anxiety I feel crossing the border into the states. Would it be that much trouble to get a confirmed negative test?

I don’t know – is all this a small price to pay to ensure a clean playing field? Do other countries work so hard to catch their cheaters? Can an organization like CCES and the World Anti-doping Agency take drug testing too far?  It is nice to know that my teammates are not cheating, but I already knew that.  I want to know the guys I’m racing aren’t cheating.

By the way – Joanne and Dave are both wonderful people, and made the evening as pleasant as possible.


1 comment
05/15 2009

Rowing Canada Talent Detection Events – May 23

Do you have what it takes?Mens8-2008Olympics

Rowing Canada is looking for “NEW ROWING TALENT” to support it’s success in years to come.

To help identify potential rowers and introduce them to our sport, could you forward this video to friends that fit one of the following criteria:

Non rowers with a sports background
Athletes who have achieved a high level of success in other sports Individuals that you feel would excel at our sport.


Be a positive role model for someone today!

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
05/15 2009

Boat Speed

OLY-2008-ROWING-FINAL-CAN-AUSGetting back into some rows in my new Hudson 1X I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on my technique. My thoughts move to what worked well for us this summer in the 2-. Scott and I were accused of rowing a short stroke, but perhaps we were misunderstood. Even as we won the Lucerne World Cup the announcers claimed we were rowing “like lightweights”. No matter what you think about our stroke, it worked, but why?

Mike Spracklen always talks about the importance of power per stroke and stroke length. For his crews, rate is a by-product of how much power can be applied to a long stroke. At the 2003 Milan World Championships we won the 8+ in a 6-minute plus headwind; we were three beats lower than the field with a full boat length lead at the thousand.

No matter who you are – on race day, in the 2- as in the 8+, every athlete has a maximum power output that translates into boat speed. Scott and I meshed our strength, our length and our understanding of the benefits of a consistent boat speed to maximize our absolute boat speed.

The difference in speed of a 2- at its fastest point in the stroke versus its slowest point has to be minimized. It is inefficient to have to pick up the weight of a slow boat every stroke – same theory as the fly wheel on the erg. That increased weight, when shared across an 8+ is minimized; however, in a 2- it can quickly weaken an athlete and lead to the breakdown of technique.

So how do you maintain your boat speed? Watch your stern.

As the stern of a 2- rises and falls per stroke cycle, the stroke-guy can visually see when to catch. The most efficient rowing stroke keeps the stern riding high out of the water. Scott saw this every stroke, but he also felt it. Keeping the boat out of the water decreased the waterline on our hull, but also decreased the change in the waterline per stroke – both factors decreased resistance.

The guys who beat us had a longer lever and a greater power output than we did. They used their length and power to race at a 35, a few beats lower then us, while maintaining the same boat speed.  Their power output per stroke came at a greater cost to them, but it was a load they were trained to handle. Their strength gave them a higher maximum boat speed per OLYMPICS-PODIUMstroke, but their stroke rate also gave them a lower minimum boat speed per stroke – that is, until the 3rd 500 metres of the race.

Ultimately they were a faster crew, but we were able to race alongside them more so than other crews who tried to race a similar style to them, without having a similar body type.  If that means I rowed like a lightweight as was called in Lucerne, so be it.


Be a positive role model for someone today!

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
04/30 2009

Washington: Men of 2009

1997-uw-freshaman-crewWOW! I just watched the 2009 Cal/UW Dual on – What a race!

It was 8 years ago that I last wore the “W” of Washington on my chest into battle. It was as captain of a very talented group of men. Watching the dual on-line brought me back to my last dual race against Cal.

I also remember in 1998 when the polls came out with us on top. My chest swelled; it felt great to be considered the best by the rowing community. Well, that was the year that Cal started their surge – and our ranking amounted to very little at the Pac 10s as we lost to Cal. I will never forget the Cal freshman coach yelling to us after the race to: “Get used to it Washington, get used to it”. Not many from that crew will. We rallied and beat Cal that year at the IRAs, but Princeton got the better of both of us.

It is extremely easy to follow your coach blindly when you are winning – it is equally as hard to keep that faith when you start to lose. Going into the 2009 season, boys, you were ranked number one, for good reason. Well, that didn’t last long. From up here in Canada it looked as if you boys had a few expectations going into San Diego – and why not? I did for you too!

Your cage was rattled, and then Wisconsin and Stanford both struck hard at Redwood Shores. I can only imagine what the flight home to Seattle was like for you. It is at moments like that when your character as men is tested. The entire team had to rally behind the leadership of Mike, Luke, Will and Rob. The entire team had to follow, trust, and believe. The entire team, from the Coach, to the Captain, to the Stroke to the Spare, had to make winning against Cal at the Dual your number one priority.

Cal had the target on their backs!

Well done Washington – you bounced back from San Diego and the Redwood Shores. You raced hard against Cal and it worked. You believed. But the season is long. Now is the time to reflect on what you learned flying home from the Redwood Shores. Now is the time to apply those lessons with fervour.

It really doesn’t matter who tops the polls this week – does it?

Lock and load. Put your heads down. ML: no more noises to inspire your competitors. You have found yourself in the middle of a street fight, and the tides will turn a few more times before the IRAs. Hang on tight – but do more than just go for the ride. With every training stroke you row, with every kilometre you erg and with every start-line you place your bow-ball: think about the finish line of the final at the 2009 IRA Regatta – and think about how much better it will feel 8 years from now having done everything you could have done to win. Looking back, it will help you sleep at night.

If you do everything in your power then you will show your competitors the respect they deserve. If you do everything in your power then you can have the confidence at the start-line of the IRAs that you can move 5 seats in 10 strokes. If you do everything in your power then you will prove the first poll of the racing season right.

The work has just begun. Sing it loud Rookies: B-D-T-Washington”


Be a positive role model for someone today!

Posted in All Blogs, Perspectives
04/29 2009

Victoria International Marina

calder-publicmeeting-apr29Tonight I had the honour of Speaking at my first Public Meeting. I played a small role in a significant evening.

I know that I have a responsibility to remain apolitical in my role as a BC Public Servant, and that has required some thought on my part. There were not that many public servants who returned from the Olympics to a jurisdiction preparing for the next games – but I did – when opportunity knocks…

My problem is that I prefer taking action than sitting on the side-line. If I believe in something or someone, I become invested in that cause 110% – sorry, old sports cliché. That is how I became a three time Olympian, and an Olympic medalist, by working for what I believe in, am passionate about and creating more opportunities for myself.

It is hard for me to sit back during this BC Provincial Election Campaign and watch while candidates that I support ideologically across the province are in the trenches fighting for their seat in the Legislative Assembly. I find the similarities to the “seat-racing” of crew selection ironically similar. Ultimately, there will be winners, and there will be losers, and we will all have to live with those results – so get out and vote.

But there are areas of the political world that are “in-bounds”, as far as I’m concerned, for a public servant such as myself. I had the opportunity to participate in the Torch-Relay Launch-City announcement with MLA Rob Fleming a few months ago. Likewise, my high school asked me to help host Premier Gordon Campbell at the Brentwood Regatta this past weekend. These are great opportunities for me, but completely apolitical, in terms of party support.

Tonight was more than these experiences though. Tonight was about taking action for something I believe in – 110%.

Tonight was about community – our community. There is a proposed marina development for the Victoria Harbour that will significantly impact the current use of the harbour. Individuals, recreational outfitters, tourism and industrial users will all be impacted – for better or for worse. Tonight there was an impressive line-up of speakers, with the intent of providing valuable information about the marina and the magnitude of its impact on our community.

Tonight was about sharing my experience in the harbour as a returning Olympian, struggling to fight back from a debilitating back injury – on a long road towards my dream of winning an Olympic gold medal. Tonight was about sharing my experience as a coach and role model for youth-at-risk in one of many community programs utilizing the harbour.

We have not been adequately consulted yet. This proposal, in its current form, does not take into consideration the community’s needs or best interest. All parties need to attempt to reach a compromise so that all social, environmental and economic concerns can be addressed.

With significant public participation – on both sides – perhaps we can find the middle ground. Our community deserves it.

Be a positive role model for someone today!