STRATFORD Boat Club’s adaptive squad has been focusing very much on mental well-being during these difficult times.
All squad members are keeping in contact with each other online and via social media and Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s head adaptive coach, said: “We understood straightaway we needed to prevent social isolation and this is more important to focus on rather than worrying about the rowing!”
Physical exercise is a problem for those with mobility issues as the few local facilities are all shut. However, one member who bucks the trend is Stratford adaptive squad’s Kelly Donald who has suffered from a spinal cord injury for several years.
She has access to Functional Electric Stimulation (FES) exercise equipment and this kit electrically stimulates muscles that no longer work.
Donald said: “I have been trying to work on my cardio fitness by doing some FES cycling. FES exercise is proven to maintain and, in some cases, improve bone density and cardiovascular health in addition to the well-referenced positive effects that exercise can have on mental health and emotional well-being.
“I’ve been slotting in on average three high-intensity workouts per week since the second week of March when I realised quite quickly that little to no exercise would not be good for my mind, body or soul.”
The Great Britain Paralympic rowing squad have identified several individuals around the UK as having the potential to join the team after the Paralympics in 2021.
The Stratford coaching team have been asked to help coach and develop one of these athletes and Dewdney added: “It is a mark of confidence in Stratford and what we do. We look forward to the challenge.
“Working with the top people in our sport, we will learn a lot and maybe, just maybe, we will get someone to Paris in 2024! The lockdown means a slow start to this project.”
The adaptive squad have also kept in touch with Zoom and quiz evenings and regular meetings online for discussion and training hints.