Rowing remains one of the toughest sports of attrition and in the lead-up to the Queensland School state titles one schoolboy team has been introduced to a nutritional cooking class to grab an edge. Students Will Phillips and Sean Bartlett explain how they’ve taken this on board.

For these year 10 students of Brisbane State High School, rowing six days a week, there is a need to repair the muscles exerted daily. The Under 17s team has been made aware that the right preparation is of paramount importance for peak performance.

We’re expected to eat the right foods at the right times, for example, good amounts of carbohydrates leading up to the big day,” says Sean. “And also to get heaps of sleep so we don’t die halfway through a race.”

Practicing sports dietitian Sally Baumann from Inspire at West End’s Urban Rowing was brought in to teach the eight-man crew cooking certain meals such as beef and vegetable stir-fry, chicken fajitas and even sticky date puddings for the purpose of replenishing sustenance within a half-hour of coming out from their evening workouts. Sally’s instruction of eating one gram of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight has since instilled in the crew a firm understanding of the measure of output needed for competition.

“It’s pretty simple when it comes down to it, you need to have a decent amount of carbs in your system to last a session or race, but too much beforehand or too close to the race will leave you feeling bloated and will just be extra weight to carry,” explains Sean. “After the race or training session you need to refuel your body with carbs, and protein to repair your muscles.”

However educating year 10 students on how to cook and prepare the most efficient meals during their training schedules can often be a tall ask.

“The majority of us could already cook a few meals before the lessons with Sally, but I think we were all pretty enthusiastic to have a lesson with Sally anyway because it was something to widen our knowledge of the right kinds of food to eat while having a bit of fun,” says Sean.

After a single cooking class from Sally the team has put it into practise from which they have found quite enjoyable, taking turns to bring in pre-prepared ingredients chopped and ready for the pan, cooked up and served to eat within twenty minutes, explains Will.

“The aim being that after Head of the River and Nationals we will have a few more and have to cook for the squad when we go away for camp in April. It is quite enjoyable and is actually bringing our crew closer together,” he says.

What it has also done for these teenage athletes and sons of the school mums and dads who help out with their slaving away at preparing meals for their training sessions has given them a renewed sense of appreciation for their contribution to the team’s preparation.

“Cooking takes a lot of time and effort,” admits Sean. “So I think cooking more often and for a larger amount of people than just my family helps me be more grateful for the parents who give their time to cook for us.”

The benefit of this dietary change in their training regime has certainly been felt by the team, according to Will.

“Certainly, I thought I was eating well before but I didn’t realise how much this helped.”

With the Queensland State Titles looming in less than a month, this State High team is more than equipped to stroke over the finishing line first.

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By Kirk W. Wallace

Images provided by Andy Clatworthy

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