California State University, Long Beach

The Power of Sleep

Tuesday, 14. October 2014

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Photo by Ariana Gastelum

Varsity rower Rikki Oden found a spot in the shade to relax before her race at last year’s Head of the American.


By Ariana Gastelum

Women’s novice coach Megan Smith has always stressed to the team that sleep is extremely important for athletes. I have never tested this theory until several weeks ago, and it is incredible how much better I feel physically and mentally.

I did not develop bad sleeping habits until high school when I was put into an accelerated program that required a certain amount of Advanced Placement and honors classes. I remember staying awake until 2am, writing Cornell notes for a 30-page chapter…only to receive a stamp that stood for credit when my teacher looked over it for a brief second.

This was the norm. I figured my body was used to it. And since then, I’ve always had around 4 to 6 hours of sleep.

Just before the last erg test, I started forcing myself to go to bed at 10p.m. The first morning left me feeling groggy, and I couldn’t understand why. However, the more nights I practiced sleeping, the better I felt.

No matter what, you are going to be tired when you wake up at 4:30a.m. It is totally unavoidable. However, I noticed that a good night of sleep can sure make warming up feel a lot quicker. Since I was already so awake, I could focus on catching up my body to my mind. By the time the team reached the 500-meter pole at Marine Stadium, I no longer just felt warm…I felt good; I felt ready.

The greatest benefits more sleep provides are energy and concentration. More energy results in a better performance. In crew, this has helped me maintain my technique throughout entire practices. When I’m tired, I tend to slouch and use less leg drive, which results in lower-back pain.

This week, I am taking midterms, so concentration plays an extremely important role in studying. Last night, I stayed up until about midnight reviewing notes.

I woke up feeling worse than ever…perhaps because I was no longer used to it. Since it was Tuesday, the women’s team worked on land. Varsity had two 30-minute pieces with 4 minutes steady-state and 1 minute full-pressure.

I ended up sitting out for the second piece because the pain in my lower back was too great, so I ran down the Stadium, instead. I hate running, so if I’d rather run than erg, something is definitely up.

After taking the exam today, I realized that I would have probably done better if I went to bed an hour earlier. The later it gets, the harder it is to retain knowledge. The extra hour of sleep would have probably at least helped me focus.

I now realize that it is better to go to bed when I feel tired because it will help me recover faster and benefit my overall performance.

My Definition of Determination

Tuesday, 7. October 2014


Photo by Jonathan Flietstra

Since practices are held from 5:30a.m. to 7:30a.m., rowers can usually determine practice is almost over when the sun comes up.


By Gregory Yotsov

Varsity Rower

It’s Monday morning when I wake up to my alarm screaming as the clock strikes 4a.m. I roll over in bed and look out my window to see nothing but darkness and a star-filled sky — or as many stars as you can see in LA County — while my mind and body beg to go back to sleep.

As I think about closing my eyes again, I realize that my teammates are all starting to wake up and get ready for practice as well. So, I drag myself out of bed, grab my things and drive down to the boathouse to be welcomed by my teammates, who are also wearing their sleep-deprived faces.

Around this time I usually ask why I do this to myself, but before I can think of an answer I am putting our boat in the water, strapping in, grabbing my oar, and getting ready to sweat.

However, by the time we push off the dock and I take my first stroke I am instantly awake and remember why I love this sport. Of course, competing and winning races serves as motivation to put in the amount of hard work that my team does on a daily basis, but I see each individual stroke I take at practice as an opportunity to personally push myself to get better, faster, and stronger; and the results I have seen in myself encourage me to push (or pull, in this case) that much harder.

And if that isn’t motivation enough, all I have to do is look at the face of the person sitting in front or behind me in the boat to ensure myself that I’m not the only one suffering, and that I am letting my teammates down, unless I am at least matching that same level of effort they are putting in.

Although the feeling of being sweaty, sore and exhausted by the time we finally come in to dock an hour and a half later is often described as miserable, after a warm shower and a fresh change of clothes, it is one of the best feelings I have experienced due to the fact that I have started my day and accomplished something by the time most people are even awake.

Topping this all off with hanging out and grabbing breakfast with my teammates (some of the best people I know) before having to go to class, I would say is a pretty great start to a productive day – only to be repeated again tomorrow.

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From bow: Ryan Woolner, Trevor Peach, Tyler Miguel, Brad McCormick, Gregory Yotsov, Jacob Bledsoe, Patrick Tilley, Jake Skoll and coxswain Eric Oates (not pictured)

Click the link below to view the men’s varsity eight practicing around Marine Stadium! Video taken by Men’s Varsity Coach Robert Edwards.

Varsity 8


Novice Gets Caught in a Pickle

Monday, 6. October 2014

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Taken from video by Megan Smith

The novices have been practicing rowing all eight the past couple weeks. Rowing without a pair sitting out helps the women focus on handle-heights to set the boat with blades off the water.


By Madison Simon

Novice Rower

When Novice Coach Smitty (Megan Smith) called out names for last Monday’s lineups, and I heard “Madison and Larice [Pelzer]” called before the word, “pickle,” I was caught off guard. I wasn’t quite sure if I heard her correctly, but yes, I did. [The Pickle is the name of one of the team's pairs. It's recognized for its easter-green color.]

To be honest, I’ve got A LOT to learn when it comes to rowing, especially out on the water. Not once did rowing in a pair cross my mind, since I don’t even consider myself close to being 100% comfortable rowing in an eight. Well, things happen for a reason, and I didn’t complain. So, the Pickle was to be in my near future.

I’m not one to get stressed out over small things, but when I heard how easily those pairs flip, I was a little intimidated.

Another fun fact, it was only Larice’s second time in the pair. Awesome.

Despite all this, I was able to ease the tension, and I found rowing in the Pickle to be very enjoyable. Sending a big thank you to Larice, who was a great coach and super fun team mate to row with.

It was definitely an enjoyable learning experience. I was able to better feel how my movements affected the boat. With more pressure on me to propel it forward, I now understand the importance of pushing with my legs, and as a result, the slow recovery became my best friend, since we couldn’t switch pairs within the boat to rest. Being there are only two people in a pair, it’s required that both rowers actually row with force, and at the same pressure. That was a challenge, but also a skill we needed in order to make sure the boat moves in a straight.

Another great lesson: handle heights! I now understand how important it is to keep the handles leveled, so that the boat doesn’t rock back and forth, or flip completely if it’s a pair we’re talking about.

The overall experience was beneficial. I learned more than I expected, and had a great time. I’m definitely glad to have been one of the first novice rowers who got stuck in a pickle.


Click the link below to see a video of the women’s novices’ progress! Video taken by Megan Smith.

Novice 8