Rowing season is over, but practice isn't for Klemens Columbia resident never stops training

December 07, 1992|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

While most people were sleeping on a typical day this year, Monica Klemens, a member of the Baltimore Rowing Club, was rowing eight to 10 miles up and down the Patapsco River, starting at 5 a.m., practicing for national, regional and local events before she went to work. Practices started in March and ended early last month.

The Columbia resident had her best rowing season this year, she said. But despite the end of the rowing season -- and practices -- Klemens' early-morning training continues.

Off-season training, about 12 hours a week, started after practices ended. Workouts included running and using a rowing machine. Klemens also did cross training during the season, performing the same type of activities six days a week for 1 to 1 1/2 hours each day.

"If you want to have a successful spring season, you have to push yourself hard to stay in good shape," said Klemens, who began rowing at the Coast Guard Academy in 1982. "I love rowing and I don't want to give it up. If you stop working out, you drag the rest of your team down. It's not just a casual thing. You have to get up every morning at 4:30 and row your gut out before going to work for a full day."

Klemens capped off an excellent season, teaming with four others and capturing top honors in October at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. A week later, Klemens' team finished second in the women's open division among 40 club and college teams at the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia.

Klemens, a member of the club since 1986, and her crew won a gold medal in the women's lightweight four at the Head of the Charles Oct. 18, defeating 24 other college and club boats in the three-mile event. Their course-record time, 18 minutes, 26.97 seconds, shattered the mark by 23 seconds. The Head of the Charles is the world's largest single-day rowing competition, attracting crowds of more than 100,000 spectators.

"It was the culmination of a lot of years of work," Baltimore Rowing Club coach Walter Cesewski said. "It was an excellent year, and it would be hard to duplicate it. She [Klemens] has been the glue that held that team together for the last five years. And she takes charge every spring when the season begins."

In the last four years, Klemens' crews placed second three times and third twice in Boston. That's why this year's finish meant the most to the 1982 Severna Park High graduate.

"It was probably the best race of my career," said Klemens, who served as the club's novice coach for two seasons (1990-1991) and organized the first competitive women's BRC team in 1987. "It felt like a perfect race, like nothing was off."

Klemens attributes the success at Charles Regatta to her crew's training and practicing six days a week. Each team member worked out for 1 1/2 to two hours after work, with each club member having to lose between 5 and 15 pounds to qualify for

their weight division. Klemens lost 15 pounds.

"Just practicing was not enough to win," she said. "You have to go beyond that for a big race like this, and we asked each other if we want to take it seriously. Then we had to commit to training hard and we did."

Cesewski said, "As far as conditioning, it's much higher than other sports. For rowing, you have to train longer and harder than other sports. And rowers have a keener sense of conditioning."

Klemens' team also garnered top honors in other events this year.

At the Masters Nationals in Camden, N.J., in August, Klemens' crew won the women's championship four and eight.

And in 1991 at the U.S rowing nationals in Indianapolis, the team made the finals of the 2,000-meter event and placed fifth.

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