Race preparation – dialling it down

30 May 2021

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So race preparation with Harry was always quite interesting. And it was actually about getting me to be loose and relaxed, whilst knowing I was going to be determined and I was going to try my best.

So I remember one particular race, it was at Henley, my first Henley race. And I was coming down to race. And I can’t remember who I was racing. It was the domestic qualifier for the Diamond Sculls.

And when I came down to the race, Harry looked at me and he could see my eyeballs were coming out, and I was getting ready to race. And he said to me, ‘Look, on a scale of 1 to 10, how up for it are you?’ And I said, look, Harry, I think I’m at about a 9, but I reckon I can get to 10 by the time I get to the start.

And Harry just looked at me and he said, ‘Greg, you’re gonna beat this guy. You’d beat this guy 100 times out of 100’.

So, he said, ‘What I want you to do is I want you to get that 9 out of 10 and I want you to bring it to a 2. And then I want you to go on the water, I want you to enjoy the warm up, do the things we practised, get on the start. Once we get on the start, I want you to think about how you’re going to go out and you’re going to enjoy sculling, you’re going to scull the boat fast, and you’re going to go and win a race’.

And I thought this was very alien, very strange, but I trusted the process.

And that day I went out and I sculled really well, and I really enjoyed it. And it helped me to understand you can go out and you can really enjoy racing.

Now, as the event progressed, I couldn’t afford to go out at 2 out of 10. But what I could do was I could be in control, and I could be relaxed, and I could be aware of my surroundings and aware of being able to react to what the competition did, what the other person I was racing did, how the water behaved, and all those kind of things.

And that put me right in control. It allowed me to be strong and determined, but also loose and relaxed and in control of what I was doing.

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About the
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Greg Searle

British rower Greg Searle was already an Olympic Champion in sweep rowing when he was first coached by Harry Mahon in the single scull.

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