In Conversation With Jaideep Natu
- What motivated you to pick rowing as your choice of sport?
Ans: It all began in the summer of 2018 when my parents took me to Malaysia. Mom had come across an advertisement for Canoeing in the marshes and open seas of Langkawi. Using the secret power of Mom Persuasion, I was forced to go row the boat and face my fears of random octupi and jellyfish jumping out of the water. It was the best decision I had ever made. I spent the rest of the trip just talking on and on about the fun I had in the marshes. My father soon realised his son was starting his eleventh grade and also the fact that his son was going to spend his entire academic year doing nothing. Hence, the PT loving Army man sent his son to the Rowing Node in CME, Dapodi. Needless to say, I still thank him to this day for enrolling me.
- What, according to you, is the best thing about rowing?
Ans: The best thing about rowing has to be the absolute strain it forces on all parts of your body. It’s the best all body exercise I’ve ever experienced and it also helped me from standing in front of the assembly line, to the absolute behind. Needless to say it had improved my overall fitness a lot because by the end of seven eight months, I was clocking 10k marathons monthly. I would now like to now extend my “thank you” to COVID-19 for reducing that number of marathons to zero.
- Could you explain to us a bit about the technicalities (as in the basic rules, dos and don’ts) of rowing?
Ans: The rules are pretty clear. Stay in your lane and avoid bumping into other boats. This though is a lot easier said than done. You’re trying to row as fast as possible and at the same time balance your boat alone or with other teammates. Even your lane of rowing is pretty small so it is a sport that requires very good mind muscle eye coordination.
- Can you tell us more about your practice sessions and what are the aspects you focus on the most?
Ans: So we had multiple sessions alternating every three days and they revolved around running, rowing and the ergometer. The ergometer is a machine meant to replicate the effect rowing has on your body. It’s an excellent way to increase your overall stamina too. I highly recommend people working out in the gym to hit this machine rather than the boring treadmill for your cardio. The most important aspect rowers had to focus on was power in the arms and stamina. Having high stamina is extremely vital because you’re pumping in your entire energy into covering that 2 km canal in the least time possible.
- As it seems quite strenuous, what were the mental challenges you faced during your tenure as a rower?
Ans: More than facing problems as a rower, the daily commute and that too after a hectic school day was taxing. Since the rowing channel was situated in a scenic environment and since it had excellent running tracks too, my grandmother had volunteered to arrange for my commute by a driver and she too used to tag along for her evening strolls along the lakes and the jungle. It was a bit arduous in the beginning but as the routine begins to set in you get used to it. When it came to physical fitness, obviously it was extremely tough in the start as I had been a plump kid since childhood. There were times where I had to push myself beyond the edge to avoid risking drowning my teammates.
- How did you mentally as well as physically prepare for rowing tournaments?
Ans: Consistency is the key for any sport and it’s no different when it comes to rowing too. Believing in yourself that you can do more and pushing yourself in spite of your body saying it can’t, is vital for your growth in this sport. Sometimes you feel like your arms have detached from your body but you can’t stop as it would ruin the flow of your teammates and that’s where mental strength comes in.
- Have you ever suffered a serious injury/ setback while rowing?
Ans: Rowing has never injured me in a serious way if bleeding doesn’t count in it. Since this is a sport that needs repetitive heavy action, it took a toll on my right knuckles. Even though I came 2nd in a competition , my knuckles were extremely bloody and had stained my white shirt pretty badly. So yeah, the only problem one faces in rowing is friction and the constant scabs and cuts because of it.
- What do you think was the best part about being a part of such a sport in which teamwork and good coordination are extremely important?
Ans: The best part of rowing is that it’s a full body excellent cardio exercise which needs all your energy and willpower. So it automatically strengthens you physically as well as from the inside. If you are going to row with a partner(s) (4 coxed/8 coxed/2 coxed), you need to match your timing of your oars with others, perfectly. One mistimed stroke can ruin the flow and effectively cost you that first place by seconds.
- What are the biggest takeaways from your journey with rowing?
Ans: My biggest takeaway from this whole experience has to be the fact that as long as you have the tenacity and lots of willpower, nothing is impossible. Even though your body might scream and tell you that you are at your limit, your mental strength can still push you miles ahead.
- What is your opinion about the media coverage of rowing in India? Do you think it needs to change or could do with a better narrative? If so, can you elaborate on how?
Ans:As we all know, media coverage is extremely important when it comes to popularizing or tryin to make the sport mainstream. In this case, coverage is very very low and the only time I saw it peak was during the 2021 Olympics. Obviously this needs to change and more people need to be told about it. Not only for rowing purposes but also to educate them on the benefits of the Ergometer in the gym. The only way I see this happening is by the Govt taking initiative to construct good channels and funding the boats. They need to work hard if they want India’s representation to increase in future events.
- Do you have any idols that you look up to, from the rowing world?
Ans: I still look up to Asian Games Gold medallist Naik Subedar Dattu Bhokanal who used to train at CME too. His boat was easy to identify from afar as if usually used to be the one moving at top speed.
He is one of the top rowers in India but ironically he had grown up in an area where scarcity of water and a dry climate are natural phenomena. (Nashik).
- For a newcomer who’s interested in the sport, what do you think they should start with? (Regarding media consumption as well as practices they can take up)
Ans: As a newcomer they should obviously first hunt for good coaching and a Clean channel of water to row in, as I doubt everyone wants to be like COEP graduates and swim in the Mula Mutha.
Moreover since media coverage is very low, you’ll have to access the internet for it. And finally, having a never giving up attitude and fire in the belly is needed in order to succeed.
-Interviewed by Shruti Reddy
F.Y. B.sc. Economics