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Rowing Science

  • About
  • Physiology
  • Movement Science
  • NTC
  • Pathways
  • Protocols

About Rowing Science

Rowing Australia’s Science program includes the disciplines of Physiology, Movement Science, Performance Nutrition, Performance Psychology and Strength and Conditioning. The focus of the Science team is to maximise positive outcomes for each athlete with the view that well prepared and disciplined athletes will reliably perform at or very close to their maximum capabilities. The disciplines work together understanding their unique areas of rowing but always combining their understanding to improve the rowers and

Rowing Australia’s Science Team is led by Dr Tony Rice. Tony has worked with The National Senior Team since 2002 and has attended the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Through to the end of 2016, he was National Sports Science Coordinator for Rowing Australia and although employed by the Australian Institute of Sport resided full-time within the Rowing Australia National Training Centre in Canberra. Since 2017 Tony has taken on the role of developing Rowing Science for the Underage Pathways rowing stream intending to assist Rowing Australia’s talented underage rowers and coaching staff across the country to ensure a steady flow of quality and well-prepared rowers into the senior program.


This discipline focuses on ensuring the training and physical recovery needs of the athlete are well catered for. The physiologist understands the theory and practice of endurance training and works closely with the coaching team to help set the daily, weekly and yearly training programs. The physiologist regularly evaluates the rower through on-water and laboratory-based monitoring and testing that helps guide and refine the training even further. In the Australian rowing culture, the Physiologist works with the team daily and will often be seen sitting in the coach boat observing training and discussing training needs with the coach.

The physiology team across the country use many assessment protocols aimed at testing all physiological characteristics of a rower. Some of our protocols are aimed at simplicity so that the test can be conducted anywhere throughout the world whereas others require the use of scientific-grade equipment which helps measure very small changes in performance and metabolic variables because of training.

Movement Science

Encompasses the disciplines of both rowing biomechanics and performance analysis. A rowing biomechanist delves into the physics of rowing. They understand the powerful levers of the rowing motion, force production, catch and release angles and work with the athlete and coach to maximise each stroke by optimising individual movement patterns to fit with the theory of good rowing technique. Quite often the biomechanics of rowing relies heavily on technology instrumentation of the rowing boat and sometimes even the rower to help record movement during routine training. This information is then analysed and presented to the team after training in the video / debrief process. The biomechanist and the other key disciplines of Rowing Science work closely together to help optimise rowing technique

Rowing Science at the National Training Centres

Rowing Science for the National Training Centres (NTC) is undertaken by two highly qualified rowing scientists. At the Reinhold Batschi Men’s NTC in Canberra, Dr Nathan Versey works with the senior male rowers and coaching staff to undertake the physiology and movement science streams.

Erin McCleave is the scientist engaged with the Hancock Prospecting Women’s NTC in Penrith. Erin is in the final stages of completing her Ph.D. but works full-time with the female athletes and coaches implementing both the physiology and movement science disciplines into their daily training environment.

Erin and Nathan are led by Dr Tony Rice and as a Team work closely together (albeit in training centres 300km apart) to ensure consistency of delivery of the Rowing Science philosophy and core systems and equipment. Each NTC has its own specific needs based around the athletes, training venues and coaches but all these are underpinned by well-characterised and understood training theory and practice.

Erin and Nathan are specifically tasked to lead as well as assist their athletes and coaches with all science aspects of the high-performance rowing program with a key focus on the physiology, biomechanics and performance analysis aspects of their training environment.

Rowing Science for Pathways Network

 A major change in the implementation of CNO was to shift the role and focus of the state-based academies and institutes of sport towards underage talent identification and development. Each Australian state/territory has its own unique set of circumstances that requires a tailored and individual approach to their rowing talent pathway but they each have responsibility for delivering athletes to the Senior High Performances programs based in the Penrith and Canberra NTC’s

Rowing Science in the Pathways stream is coordinated and led by Dr Tony Rice. In this case, Tony’s role is to work closely with the scientists and coaches in the State Academies and Institutes of Sport to help develop talented underage athletes and coaches and provide them with better knowledge of rowing science and how it can benefit their performance.

Tony works with Lyall McCarthy (Pathways Head Coach) to design and implement the National Training Curriculum; an Australia-wide technical and physical development model of Australian underage rowing. In practice, this curriculum will provide a template of rowing training and technical requirements/competencies for each State Academy / Institute of Sport which is then fine-tuned to suit the unique aspects of each DTE.

Research and Development

Rowing Australia aims to be the number one rowing nation in the world and the R&D arm of their High-Performance system strives to achieve this aim through strategic partnerships and alliances with stakeholders.

Since the beginnings of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Rowing Australia have partnered to improve sport performance through cutting-edge research and equipment development. Rowing Australia and the AIS have a long and distinguished history of high-performance sport research and currently, they have two Competitive Innovation grants (CIF) specifically tailored to deliver technology and data management systems to the Australian Rowing space. The current CIF projects include partnering with the Australian-based technology company OarInspired to design and deliver working telemetry and biomechanical data systems to Rowing Australia.

Other current research projects and topics of interest include;

  1. Comparison of workload and energy costs of exercise on the Watt Bike and Concept II Ergometer
  2. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) and its role in body composition and endurance raining
  3. Nutrition-related risk factors for rib stress fracture
  4. Quantification of training load
  5. Optimal recovery practices for high-performance endurance athletes