3-on-3: Be Ready for Any Type of Weather

by Jules Zane, | May 19, 2016
In 3-on-3, our experts will answer three questions and offer unique insights, which have helped them and others along the way. This month, we talk to Katelin Snyder (U.S. women’s eight coxswain and Rio hopeful), Cameron Kiosoglous (U.S. lightweight men’s four coach), and Margot Zalkind (USRowing safety committee chair) about how to deal with changing weather conditions and temperatures all season long.

In 3-on-3, our experts will answer three questions and offer unique insights, which have helped them and others along the way. This month, we talk to Katelin Snyder  (U.S. women’s eight coxswain and Rio hopeful), Cameron Kiosoglous (U.S. lightweight men’s four coach), and Margot Zalkind (USRowing safety committee chair) about how to deal with changing weather conditions and temperatures all season long.


1) Early morning can start out chilly, but temperatures can rise quickly when the sun comes out. What’s your advice for dressing properly during these sessions?

Cam: “Everyone who knows me knows I hate the cold! What I have observed is that it is better to be warm out on the water and be able to take off layers than to be cold. Over-preparing is better than the alternative. I always suggest testing clothing before you get on the water, whether it is on a run, or on the erg, try it out first. Also, be smart and use your head. Wear something that covers your head, whether it is cold or sunny. I have to say that of course, because I have no hair.”

Margot: “Layers, layers, layers. Check weather conditions prior to practice and layer accordingly. Planning the clothing is the key. Choose a wicking layer as your base. I always like a windproof jacket over everything, one that I can remove easily (and put back on if wind kicks up). Put on sunblock before launching. A hat can help keep sun off your face if you are comfortable rowing with one.”

Katelin: “Layers! I layer up with a long sleeve base layer, definitely merino wool if it’s very cold or a synthetic fabric. I try and avoid cotton because it’s so uncomfortable (and freezing cold) when it gets wet. Next I put on a fleece or down layer, followed by a rain shell. I have been known to overdo it when it comes to bringing and wearing clothing in the boat, but I've been part of too many practices where the wind picks up, a storm comes in, or it just gets cloudy and cold. I would rather be comfortable and a little (or a lot) ridiculous-looking than be miserable and unprepared.” 

2) Hydration is crucial during all types of workouts, but especially during those warmest summer days. What’s your best tip for a very hot day on or off the water? 

Cam: “If you are thirsty, it is too late. Being aware is most of the battle with hydration, so staying on top of your hydration is critical. It is not like school exams. You can’t cram in your hydration. Some people carry around a bottle, which I think can be helpful. Pay attention to how often you urinate, as it is one way to figure out if you are hydrated or not. Start freezing your drinks, especially if you take out a second water bottle, so that by the time they need it on a hot day, it is still cold.”

Margot: “If you wait to hydrate until you are on the water, you’ve waited too long. I often bring two bottles of water for hot days. A headband helps too. I dunk mine into the water periodically and it cools the forehead and keeps sweat away from my eyes. Sunglasses protect the eyes. Keep hydrated in the days leading up to practice or race day. If you are training, consider putting one or two ice cubes in your water bottle. As they melt, the water will remain cool. When on land, have water refills readily available. Plan in advance how and where you will refill your water bottle. Drink, drink, drink water whenever you get the chance.”

Katelin: “Electrolytes! I like electrolytes, because having that flavor helps me drink more water, and the salt content helps you stay hydrated. On hot days, I wear long sleeves, usually a UV-protection button-up shirt. Keeping the sun off my skin helps me stay cool. I wear longs when working out in the sun also—usually a thin white long-sleeved shirt. It seems counterintuitive to wear more clothing in the heat, but once you sweat through the shirt, it's actually pretty cooling, and it keeps me from getting any sun rash or tan lines.”

3) Weather can turn quickly. How do you keep track of impending conditions and what do you do when a storm rolls in?

Cam: “With technology—the web, smart phones, and social media—we have access to a lot of information. There are no excuses for getting caught out in bad weather, especially in parts of the country where weather can be extreme. I never risk it and think it can be far more efficient to stay inside and train on land than it is to jeopardize the safety of our athletes and coaches. I have learned to pay a great deal of attention to the wind. Noticing changes in the direction or strength of the wind is usually an indication that something is coming.” 

Margot: “There are a number of good weather apps that you can load onto your phone that issue weather alerts for nearby lightning strikes, wind, and rain. Download a good tide app so you are also aware of tide and current. These are useful tools to prevent mishaps. Also, stay aware of conditions. How does the sky look? If it looks bad, do not launch. If thunder booms, or lightning is visible, pull over and get off the water. In your club’s safety plan, there should be pre-determined alternate landing options laid out. Street addresses should be marked for those sites in case emergency services are needed at the scene. If you are not under the supervision of a safety launch, be sure to have either a waterproof, floating VHF radio, and/or a cell phone in a waterproof bag. If there is a direct, local emergency number, load it into your contacts. 911 calls have been known to bounce off distant cell towers. If a 911 operator is not familiar with your location, precious time can be wasted if you require assistance. Know how to hail for help on an emergency VHF channel.” 

Katelin: “I am pretty scared of lightning, so if a thunderstorm rolls in, I am put to the test when it comes to staying calm, cool, and collected. I check the weather forecast with my phone before every practice. This way, I know what clothes to bring, and I also know how to prepare. Maybe we are in big boats if it’s windy, or on the erg if there is lightning. If a storm blows in, we will head back to the boathouse if it is safe. If not, we will take the boat to the nearest dock and wait for the storm to pass. In these instances, it's my job to stay calm and execute the plan efficiently. Staying calm helps the boat stay calm, and it also helps me make sound and safe decisions that keep the rowers safe.”

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