Two time Olympian Scott Frandsen of the Canadian M2- is in the midst of a comeback to rowing following his retirement following his silver medal in Beijing. This week's row2k Interview talks with him about his most memorable races, the pair's final in Bled, and what he did with his spare time during retirement.
row2k: How did the Frandsen/Calder pair come together and what are the strengths of your partnership?
Scott Frandsen: We came together in the spring of 2008 in the lead up to the Lucerne World Cup. Then, after taking a few years off post-Beijing we started rowing together again in March of last year. Our strength is usually our consistency but the final in Bled was a bit of a strike against that. We also have a very similar approach to racing and can shift up to race pace quickly together.
row2k: Your crew finished fifth in Bled following a solid race and bronze medal in Lucerne, what are your thoughts on the Bled final?
Scott Frandsen: There was just something off with us during the whole week in Bled. Our heat and semi-final were ok but not our best, and then the final wasn’t close to our potential at all. It was definitely disappointing and something that we need to figure out, but we have been on a very positive track these last 8 or 9 months so we are trying to focus on that. The boat is qualified for the London Olympics so, assuming everything goes well this year and we are selected as the pair, we won't have to go through the qualification regatta like we did before Beijing.
row2k: What are your plans for the pair for London?
Scott Frandsen: Our goal is to win. That is going to be tough considering how fast the GB and NZ pairs are right now but Dave and I would both rather test ourselves against the best rather than trying to find a different event that might be easier to win. There are a lot of steps that we have to get through in the next 11 months. The first major one for us is the Canadian Championships in November where we hope to solidify ourselves as the top pair on the team which would allow us to stay in the pair.
row2k: Any Cal/Washington smack talk while on the water?
Scott Frandsen: Yes. A lot, haha. The Golden Bears are definitely outnumbered on the Canadian team (Will Dean, another Cal grad, is in the 4-) but I think we are able to keep the Huskies in check. Most of the trash talk is in jest and actually a testament to the US collegiate system that so many members of our national team have gone through US programs. Cal and UW have great histories of success and Canadian rowers have usually played prominent roles in that success. Go Bears.
row2k: Which race in your past is the most memorable and why?
Scott Frandsen: Probably Lucerne in 2008. No one expected much from us and discounted any chance of Australia and New Zealand being touched. Going into the regatta we thought we were fast but had no idea how we would compare to the rest of the field. Without that pressure or expectation, we were just able to race with this freedom or lightness that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a lot of fun and we had a solid race in the final - shooting out to a lead in the first 1000 and holding on to win. The result surprised a lot of people and, while we still had to qualify a few weeks later, it established us as contenders for Beijing.
row2k: Which race stands out as the one you learned the most from and why?
Scott Frandsen: Hopefully the final in Bled. I think we have already learned a lot from it in terms of what needs to be ignored or removed for the lead up to London and I think it has taught us that we can’t take ‘performing on the day’ for granted.
row2k: Since Beijing you have taken time off and competed in a couple Ironman competitions. What were those like and how do they compare to rowing?
Scott Frandsen: Ironman is a completely different experience. The competitive drive that serves us so well in rowing has to be totally reigned in to have a successful race in Ironman. You have to be able to stick to you race plan and not race everyone around you – because if you do that you will burn out early and suffer for a long time. I learned that the hard way. I also found that the nerves at the start line were completely different. In rowing, if you mess up the first few strokes you can take yourself out of the race… whereas with Ironman, you have the next 10 hours to make up for it. So it takes the pressure off in that regard, but in its place is the knowledge that you are about to start a very long day where you will stretch the limits of what you thought you could endure.
row2k: You also appeared on the Canadian version of the TV show Wipeout. How did that come about and what was that competition like?
Scott Frandsen: Wipeout was an amazing experience. They sent out an email looking for Olympians that weren’t currently competing because they wanted to have an ‘Athletes’ episode. I applied and got on the show. We filmed just outside of Buenos Aires so everyone on the show got a free trip to Argentina. I used to watch the show and think ‘I could do that, easily’… its WAY harder than it looks! It was a lot of fun to compete in something totally different to rowing and I met a great group of people. The video is up on youtube and there is a link to it on my website – www.scottfrandsen.com – for anyone that wants to watch the episode(Editor's Note - these are worth a watch if you have time).
row2k: What were your reasons for returning to rowing or did you always know you would be back for a shot at London?
Scott Frandsen: No, when I retired after Beijing I was fairly certain that I was done. But I missed the competition and the camaraderie. The transition from elite sport into regular life was a difficult one for me but I thought that I had achieved some sort of normalcy or purpose after a few years of drifting. But then in the lead up to Ironman last summer I realized how much I missed those pre-race nerves and the challenge of doing something that most people can’t or don’t do. I raced in a cycling race from Vancouver to Whistler a few weeks later and then decided to race in the Canadian Champs (for rowing) at the last minute. They both went really well and over the next few months I gradually made the decision that I could put off work and the rest of my life for another 20 months to make a run at London. My bosses at RBC Dominion Securities have been incredibly supportive and having that all set up for after London is huge. Its great to know what I will be doing next year at this time and not wondering how that transition is going to go. I love the athlete lifestyle and being part of the team again.