This week's hack started out as maybe the oddest "tool" we'd ever seen in a coaching launch--a coconut--and we just had to ask the coach behind this one, Wisconsin's Jim Mitchell, for some details.
As Mitchell tells it: "For those teams like us who row on a still lake [at home], it’s hard to know what the current is doing when you come to the tidal waters of Florida and you can’t figure out why your speed is super fast or slow."
"The coconut is a great tool for checking the current. Throw it in the water and see which way it drifts compared to a fixed landmark."
That's right, the Coconut Tide-Teller will let you know which way the tide is running relative to the direction of your next piece, so that you have a rough idea of whether to expect faster, or slower, splits than normal.
Of course, if one were to, say, time the coconut over a set distance, you could come up with an exact offset for your splits, but that might get complicated--or require a tide-teller with a GPS device onboard, which is way more elaborate Hack.
Really, the idea here is just to get a quick sense of what the water is up to before you get too excited (or depressed) about the numbers on your SpeedCoach. The "float data" you get can be even more useful than checking a tide chart, because it gives you a snapshot of what the water you are actually on is doing in the moment, and how it will impact your next few minutes of work.
Clearly, Mitchell's coconut was locally-sourced at the Wisco Women's winter training spot in Cocoa Beach, but really any solid floatable will serve if you want to try this Hack at home, or on your next training trip.
In fact, we've heard tell of a coach known to use tennis balls to check the flow in the lanes (and turns) of a certain two-turn 2k course on a particular river in New England, so anything that floats, fits in your launch or toolbox easily, and is relatively retrievable should do the trick, even a half-full water bottle.
Yet Mitchell's tool of choice here--this humble coconut of truth--does have this advantage: as an all-natural bit of Florida fauna, it will not pollute the waterway even if it drifts out of reach doing its duty.
Have you come up with as cool a tool as this one? If so, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.