After succeeding in getting my boat into the water, I began training. After several months I was able to remove the pontoons. In addition I began practicing with my local rowing club, Gainesville Area Rowing. What a wonderful group. Each time I came to practice the carried my oars down to the dock and waited as I strapped my prosthetic foot into the boat. On the water I felt far less handicapped. I my training to build up my core strength meant that I was able to stabilize the boat even more effectively than before my injury. Everyone actually liked rowing with me because the boat remained very even keeled in the water allowing all the rowers to use their oars effectively. Finally on July 27th 2013 the big day had arrived. I returned to Halifax Florida where the year before I had experienced so much calf pain during my rows. I had thought I had a severe calf pull. I never would have imagined that a year later I would be rowing with a prosthesis after losing my leg!
My first race was in 4-man boat. I was in the 2nd seat next to the bow man and the number 3 rower. Would I be able to keep up the rapid 30/minute stroke rate? Everyone else had two legs. As we surged off the line I had no trouble managing my blades and slide. The boat moved easily and rapidly through the water. The 1000 yards went by very quickly, and I felt great at the finish. We came in second out of 5 boats. I had won my first medal. On November 1st I stroked a 4 man boat in the Head of the Chattahoochee a 3 mile race. For this race I was able to set the pace and we maintained a stroke rate of 28/min and finished in a time of 17 minutes 45 seconds traveling at over 6 miles per hour. We finishing in the middle of the pack.
My team wanted me to compete in the Southeaster Ergometer Sprints. You pull a flywheel and the machine counts your strokes and distance. The world record for 1000 meters for an above the knee amputee was 3 min 45 sec. Could I break this record? I accepted my team’s challenge. Byron my trainer designed a 2 month training program and on February 1st I competed. I kept an even pace designed to break the record, but in the last 200 meters my good leg fatigued. My time 3 min and 53 seconds. I missed by 8 seconds, but I was pleased with my performance. Next year!