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Lockwood: “The boat is feeling really good”

Ahead of the Australian Men’s Four competing in their semi-final today (Thursday) we caught up with the man in the bow seat, Will Lockwood to see how he and the crew have been travelling heading into the 2015 World Rowing Championships.

“It’s the first time I’ve raced in Aiguebelette and so far it’s been fantastic. It’s an absolutely beautiful venue and it’s been run really well.

“Our first row was the chance to take the time to soak it in, find the markers of the course, take a look around and enjoy the natural beauty of it and then after that it’s all business. You’ve seen it once, and then it is time to put your head in the boat, and concentrate on what you need to in the boat, which for me is looking at the back of Josh Dunkley-Smith’s head.

“Ever since leaving Varese and coming into here (Aiguebelette), it feels like our paddling has stepped up and the boat is feeling really good, the rhythm has been better than it has before and the speeds are coming together a lot easier, I don’t know what it is about coming into the venue but it’s really helped us to up our game.

“Our heat row was solid, nothing spectacular but enough to get us through to the semi-finals. We’re confident, everything we’ve done so far has paid off and we know we have a fair way to go, and we’re looking forward to having another race in this semi-final as it provides us the opportunity and time to work on a few things and help us progress smoothly through the regatta.”

Lockwood, who won a silver medal in the Men’s Four at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has been coached by Simon Cox this season. Cox recently joined Rowing Australia having been the head coach of Swiss rowing for many years.

“Simon’s bought another level of physicality to our crew, to our program that we haven’t felt before,” said Lockwood.

“He’s very keen on the T2, the mid-range sort of stuff, and early in the season we did a lot of erg-ing, a lot of Wattbikes and a lot of weights and that’s something that he recognised that male sweep group had been lacking in perhaps in comparison to some of the other big sweep nations. Australians typically row quite well, so it’s not been about changing too much technically but changing more the physical capacity of us, his rowers, which I think has been really beneficial.”

This week sees not only the World Rowing Championships take place but also countries trying to qualify boats for the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games which can add to the pressure of the week says Lockwood.

“It’s a high stress week, it’s not just a World Championships, it’s Olympic and Paralympic Qualification, so it can take a lot out of you mentally, racing and then waiting to race, it just brings another level of worry to your regatta which you otherwise don’t usually want or need but it’s there so you have to deal with it.

“Our team this year seems to be handling it really well, I’ve only been involved in one Olympiad prior to this one, but between 2011 and here it seems a lot calmer, it seems like the whole team is better managed, crews are handling the pressure better and working better as a team with everyone genuinely interested in how the other crews in the team are doing.

“I’ve got other members of the team asking me questions about their rowing and the same for me, I’ll go up to someone and ask them a question about this and that with my rowing and it’s really good and open and honest, which I think is really beneficial to the Australian Rowing Team.

“This week is about keeping as calm as possible and giving yourself as little stress as possible, so I like to watch a movie with my crew mates, have a laugh, spend a little longer around dinner with our team-mates chatting and trying to keep things light so we all feel ready and focussed when race day arrives.”

Will Lockwood is the in Men’s Four with Joshua Dunkley-Smith, Spencer Turrin and Alexander Hill. He races in the semi-final of the Men’s Four today (Thursday) in Aiguebelette.