Eric Timken Gives us a Look at What it Takes to be a Rower
Written by Dylan Lynch '16
Junior Eric Timken's (ET) journey with the sport of rowing has hardly been a smooth one. After a serious back injury nearly forced him to give up rowing for good, Timken's love for the sport and personal motivation have only grown. From his beginnings with the sport on a freezing morning in New Jersey to his recovery from a bulging disk, Timken gave us a look into what it takes to be a bronco rower.
SCU: What has been your favorite memory as a member of the Bronco rowing team?
ET: My favorite memory has been being able to come back from a back injury I suffered during my sophomore year. After an MRI, I discovered that I had a bulging disk in my lower back. This caused me to miss the entirety of the racing season my sophomore year. I spent the rest of the season and the summer doing physical therapy on my back. I came back in the fall of 2013 but re-aggravated the injury when I failed to continue the physical therapy along with rowing. After going through the entire process a second time I came back to rowing in the winter of this year. I have been in the boat since and have been racing this year as well. There are few things in this world that I love more than the sport of rowing and while I was going through rehab for a second time it brought me to point where I thought about quitting. Now that I am once again doing what I love, I realize even more what this sport means to me. It is essential part of who I am and has caused me to become a more spiritual person. Recovering from something that almost caused me to abandon rowing is as meaningful as winning an excruciating race.
SCU: How were you introduced to rowing?
ET: I was introduced to rowing my sophomore year of High School. One of the guys saw that I was tall and slender and told me to come do some workouts with the team. This was during a New Jersey winter so all of these workouts were on land. They were pretty miserable workouts and I had never been pushed that hard so I wasn't sure quite what I was doing yet. Once I got on the water during our spring break trip to South Carolina everything changed. I was immediately hooked that first morning on the water.
SCU: What would you say is one thing that most of the students of Santa Clara don't know about the men's rowing team?
ET: I would say that most students don't understand the type of work that goes into rowing. They don't really understand the essence of the sport. I'm not insinuating that it's their fault either; rowing is an obscure sport to say the least. Most students know that we get up before dawn and are back on campus by the time people wake up for their 9:15's. What they don't understand is that rowing is a sport that ultimately comes down to a pain contest. In order to be successful it requires the rowers and coxswains utmost physical and mental concentration every practice and every stroke. You must commit yourself so wholeheartedly to the training that by the time you come to the line and you see the man across from you in your same seat, you have complete confidence that you will crush him because you know for a fact that you've worked harder.
SCU: How do you prepare for races?
ET: I think I prepare for races the way most athletes do. I make sure I eat healthy, roll out, stretch, and keep myself focused on the task ahead. The most important technique for me is visualization. I picture myself over and over again, pushing myself to the absolute limit, holding my rowing technique in the face of sheer exhaustion, and most importantly crossing the finish line first. I feel this visualization creates a sense of confidence that comes from feeling like you've done this one thousand times before.
SCU: So far, how has this season been different from last season for you?
ET: I'm a junior now and this season has been quite different. This is mostly due to the fact that I am no longer injured. My bulging disk is still there but I know how to take care of it. Being able to have confidence in my back has made all the difference for me. We also have a head coach who is in his second year and an assistant coach who is brand new this year. The attitude that they have combined to bring to the program is taking our team to a whole new level of competition