At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced the Men’s and Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls boat classes to the Olympic program. Lightweight rowers, more famously known as “the lightweights or lighties” must not exceed their respective weight limits – male: 72.5kg and women: 59kg. During regattas, lightweights must also weigh in two-hours prior to their first race.
One rower who is very familiar with the requirements that lightweights must make is Australian Rowing Team (ART) Lightweight Double Scull representative, Lucy Coleman. The Rowing Australia (RA) communications team recently caught up with Lucy to discuss lightweight rowing:
RA: Tell us about the commitment needed to become a successful lightweight rower?
COLEMAN : Competing as a lightweight adds another element of very meticulous planning and preparation leading into, and on, race-day. You become very attuned to your body and the effect your nutrition has at various points in the season. Thus, making appropriate choices is a full-time commitment and can take a physical and psychological toll if not managed properly.
RA: Common mistakes made by rowers when they first make the switch from heavyweight to lightweight rowing?
COLEMAN: I believe starting lightweight rowing too early is a common mistake made by the younger groups. You should not feel pressured into coming down, or up, to weight until you’ve learnt all that you can about your body and nutrition in general. I think it is also so important to develop your strength and bone health first, as well as seeking professional advice to determine if lightweight rowing is a suitable fit for that person who is interested to make the switch.
RA: Tell us about your lightweight rowing support system?
COLEMAN: Yes, that “support” is very important.
Thankfully, RA has an incredible support network that has made training and racing as a lightweight a very achievable and positive experience. I fear that lightweight rowing has, at times, been synonymous with unhealthy restriction and weight-loss. However, I firmly believe knowledge is power for us lightweights and so understanding that the process of coming to weight is very individualised and can take time is key to success in this category. I am also fortunate to have the support of my family and close friends. Without them, all my rowing “golds and goals” would not have been possible.
RA: Tell us about your Road to Paris 2024 goals?
COLEMAN: I made my first ART as a reserve for the lightweight double in 2021 before earning a seat in that boat in 2022. Anneka Reardon and I won a Silver Medal at World Cup 2 in Poland in June 2022. So in terms of the improvement track, I am making progress. On the other hand, the lightweight category has only two seats at the Olympics, making the competition very intense.
I want to keep improving as an oarswoman and athlete and my goal is to Row for Australia at the Paris 2024 Olympics. My dream is to win an Olympic medal.