Next up In The Driver's Seat—-where we hear from the folks who add that extra something to the teamwork of a crew—-is coxswain Elenna Sequin.
Elenna has been driving Greenwich Crew's top eight for the past two years--winning both Youth Nationals and the Head of the Charles with her Youth Men's Eight this past year--and is currently out in Chula Vista at the Junior National Team Selection Camp.
Let's hop In The Driver's Seat with Elenna:
row2k - What are your top three essentials for being ready on Race Day?
Elenna Seguin - My top three essentials for race day are to be prepared, confident, and in the moment.
Being prepared for race day has numerous implications. Whether it is having the proper instruments in the off chance of broken equipment, or knowing the wind patterns and conditions of your lane, the matter of being prepared for any circumstance is vital.
Next, being confident is essential. The regatta day environment can be chaotic. Having the ability to keep calm and be confident, in both the race and during the day in general, creates a more assured crew and allows race day to run more smoothly.
Finally, staying in the moment is critical. As stressful as it can be, race day is the time for your crew to go out and compete with outside opponents. Staying in the moment allows for a more authentic race and positive outcome.
row2k - What is your favorite drill to run with your crews? Any tips on how to do the drill well, for maximum effectiveness?
Elenna Seguin - My favorite drill to run with my crew is ratio builders. Starting at a low rate and gradually building up (ex.18, 22, 26, etc.) enables the crew to create a powerful and smooth rhythm even at higher rates. I find that pacing the drill in a way that you first lock in an effective ratio at the low rate prior to building up achieves the most efficacious outcome.
In my opinion, the most effective drills come with patience from the coxswain seat. Taking your time before either moving to the next step or completing the drill creates better results and a more in-sync crew.
row2k - What's some of the best coaching advice you've received about your coxing?
Elenna Seguin - Be confident yet adaptive. When I began coxing competitively, the first coaching advice that I received was to be adaptive. Crews will respond differently to every call you make, and because of this, you must know how to adjust your moves to best fit them. Also, having the ability to modify your decisions on race day in order to run the most efficient piece possible is critical. While this may imply leaving your race plan behind and starting fresh in the heat of the moment, it is the ability to be flexible and confident in your skills that makes the best coxswains.
row2k - What is a mid-race call or move that you've made that you'll remember for the rest of your life? What did it involve and how did you call it?
Elenna Seguin - The mid-race move that is most significant to me was in the final of the 2022 Youth National Championships final. It had been a very tight race throughout the first fifteen-hundred meters, with all crews within a length of each other. Going into the last quarter, my crew had begun to pick up speed and we became relatively aligned on the field with the other boats in contention for gold. It was at the 350-meter mark that we collectively took our move and pulled away from the field. You could feel the lift of the boat as we pushed our bow forward and that moment is one that I will never forget.
row2k - Can you tell us anything about how you learned to call a good start?
Elenna Seguin - I learned how to call a start by trial and error. Seeing how my boat responded to certain arrangements was the key to developing our sequence and the calls that went along with it. Through these trials, I have found that having one set sequence of calls for every race piece works best for my crews. Initiating every race with the same calls gets my crews into the mentality of race day and starts the piece on a familiar note.
row2k - Best race/practice you've ever had?
Elenna Seguin - My best race was the 2022 Youth Nationals Final in the Men's 8+. It was the final race of the season and the last piece that my crew would be competing in together. We also had a few seniors in the boat, whom we are all very close to, so we wanted to have one final run for them. I can remember crossing the finish line with our bow up front and the rush of excitement that came from the boys was exhilarating. It was also the first time that our club had won the National Championship in the Men's 8+ so it was a very special moment for our team.
row2k - Worst race/practice you've ever had?
Elenna Seguin - My worst race would have to be the 2021 Northeast Regional Championships Men's 8+ final. About ten minutes before our race, my crew unfortunately flipped. With a mixture of bad timing and an unbalanced drill, one moment we were sitting in the boat, and the next we were swimming around it. Fortunately, everyone was okay, and we shortly completed the piece, yet the abundance of water sloshing in the boat, and the lingering anxiety, made for an unenjoyable race. Looking back, it definitely gives an amusing story, yet still ranks at the top for my worst race.
Thanks for riding along with Elenna and remember, this column is open to all "drivers" out there, so if you are an experienced coxswain at any level--from juniors to masters--and would be willing to invite row2k to join you in your ride, just contact us here. We’d love to hear from you about what you see from the Driver's Seat.