OKC Rowers Smash World Records
(From left: Robin Prendes, Anthony Fahden, Will Day and Bob Duff)
By Molly Gordon
Will Daly reached up and rang the bell hanging from the ceiling in the OKC National High Performance Training Center on February 2. This wasn’t the first time he and the bell had met, but it was the one that meant the most.
Athletes training in OKC can ring the bell when they have beaten their personal record on the indoor rowing machine or ergometer, called the erg for short. Ringing the bell not only lets other athletes know that they’ve accomplished something big, but makes that achievement stand out even more so in their own mind. Daly likely won’t be forgetting this bell for a while. Not only had he beaten his personal record for the 6-kilometer (3.7 mile) erg test, he had broken the world record in his age and weight category.
“My first thought was ‘oh man, it’s going to be hard to go faster than that,’” Daly, 30, said. “I know I am going to be training for a few more years and making sure I keep improving is a big part of that. Now I have to work harder to beat myself.”
An accomplished rower, Daly has not broken just one record – in less than three months he has also broken the 60 min World record and the 30 min American record.
“It is a great feeling knowing that I am still improving both physiologically and technically,” said Daly an Olympian from the 2008 Beijing Games who began rowing 16 years ago. “You can continuously get better technically, but still making physiological jumps is hard. It has been very rewarding knowing that my training is paying off all while knowing I can still go faster.”
“For him to be getting these records at this point in his career shows us as coaches that our training program is working,” said Jeremy Ivey, OKC National High Performance Center Assistant Rowing Coach. “The lightweight men training here in OKC are better than they’ve ever been. We’re excited about where our training center can take the lightweight program.”
Daly isn’t the only rower to break records in OKC this year. Tulsa-born rower Meghan O’Leary broke the world record for the Open Women’s 60-minute erg test on January 22. Nicole Dinion broke the world record for the Lightweight Women’s 500-meter erg distance on February 22. And the Lightweight Women’s 6-kilometer erg distance world record was smashed by University of Tulsa alum Michelle Sechser on March 1.
“People are wondering what’s in the water in Oklahoma City,” joked Coach Ivey.
Coach Ivey credits the world-class facilities of the OKC National High Performance Center, combined with scientific coaching methods and community support for the athletes’ success.
Daly agrees. “We have some of the best training facilities in the country and the community support has been outstanding. I really enjoy it here,” he said.
Community partners have come on board to ensure the athlete’s success. St. Anthony hospital provides medical care. Mercy Hospital provides nutrition support and daily meals. Valir Health provides physical therapy.
“Keeping our athletes healthy is one of our top priorities,” said Ivey. “The support of our community partners has been critical to this effort. There are so many contributors from the OKC area that can share in the success of this group.”
With the 2016 Rio Games drawing ever closer, Daly and crew have set their sights on the ultimate goal of representing the USA. Their journey to Rio will begin this season as they look to make the team going to the Rowing World Cups and World Rowing Championships.
“Being able to compete in Beijing was an incredible experience,” Daly said. “The potential to have that experience again is very motivating. Add the opportunity to win an Olympic medal on top of that and I have plenty of motivation.”