On-water rowing comes to Strength In Depth event

This weekend sees 40 elite male and female athletes compete in Strength in Depth, the UK’s official qualification event for the 2020 CrossFit Games


Volunteers at Strength in Depth

The rowing element of Strength In Depth takes place at the London Regatta Centre at the Royal Docks and brings on-water rowing to a CrossFit sanctional for the first time. Athletes will be competing in double sculls alongside experienced rowers who are acting as judges and sitting the boat for the competitors to ensure it remains stable.

One of the judges is three-time Olympic gold medallist Andrew Triggs Hodge, who went out in a double scull with five-time CrossFit Games competitor Lukas Högberg. Hodge said: “That was awesome, that guy’s got raw power: right from the first stroke it was punchy! They have such a great attitude to it all, putting themselves into a completely new event this weekend and are just embracing it. All credit to Cam Nichol for pulling this together.”

Högberg said of the experience: “This was the first time I’ve been in a rowing boat, so it was really exciting. It was really cool being out with an Olympic gold medallist – no pressure at all! He gave me some great coaching and told me I’m going to win tomorrow, so we’ll see about that…”

Athletes were given the opportunity to go down to their local rowing clubs to learn to row in the three months leading up to the event. Olympic gold medallist Kat Copeland, one of the weekend’s judges says the experience has given rowing some new fans: “It’s been awesome taking the athletes out today, it’s so good seeing how enthusiastic they all are and seeing people who’ve never rowed before get out and try it. One of the girls I was with was like ‘it’s so peaceful and meditative’ and I think she’s going to get involved with her local rowing club. It’s brilliant to bring the two sports together”.

The on-water rowing component of the event is the brainchild of Dr Cam Nichol, Olympic rower and founder of RowingWOD. He explains: “Strength In Depth is a fantastic event that Olly and Megan Mansbridge and the team have developed.

“I competed last year as a CrossFitter and thought it was a great opportunity to add in some rowing; after 12 months of brainstorming we’re now going to deliver the first on-water rowing event at an official CrossFit sanctional.

“It’s fantastic for people who’ve got a huge passion for fitness to see how they can express their fitness in a new way. I’m trying to do my bit to show what rowing has to offer to the wider population. I think this is going to be a great way to show how some of the world’s fittest athletes can pick up a new sport and will be a fun event for everyone involved.

“There’s a lot of supportive people in the rowing community – today we’ve got people helping out such as three-time Olympic gold medallist Andrew Triggs Hodge and Paralympic champion Lauren Rowles through to volunteers from University of London Boat Club, Molesley Boat Club, Tideway Scullers, Nottingham Rowing Club, Hereford Rowing Club… brilliant people getting involved and showing the beauty of our sport.”

As well as providing key training and safety briefings for competitors, British Rowing’s World Class Start coaches will be testing athletes and spectators at the event to find the next crop of future Olympians.