About Mary Whipple

Photo of Mary Whipple


9th Seat is the brainchild of Mary Whipple, Olympic gold medalist coxswain of the US women’s eight. Here you’ll find informative blog posts, tips and tricks, and opportunities to learn from the best!

How to be a better coxswain? Become an Athlete.


Many coxswains ask me about what summer camps I think are good.  I am not working with a summer camp this year so I’m not sure how to answer this question.  I do know that coxswains need to make sure that there is a dedicated coach for them at the summer camp they choose to attend.  Being coached by someone new will help you learn how to adapt to new situations and I think that is an important trait a coxswain needs to master.  Every crew is different and every session has a different feel and goal.  Learning how to adapt and change to what the coach is asking you to do and changing to the needs of your crew will help you become a better coxswain.

I also believe that you do not necessarily need to attend a summer camp to become a better coxswain.  If I had to choose between attending a rowing summer camp or a camp where I could learn to be a better athlete, I would choose a camp where I could test my athletic abilities.  If you need to become a better motivator then put yourself into a situation where you need to talk yourself through a physical challenge.  If you want to become sharper in your decision skills then put yourself in a stressful environment where you have to make split second decisions.  Lastly, if you need to make sure you stay at coxswain weight put yourself in an environment that will allow you to stay active in a fun way.

Last Friday in between practices I decided to take a running clinic given by my new good friend Brian MacKenzie who founded Crossfit Endurance.  While my teammates rest in between practices I usually use that time to squeeze in my workout for the day.  I technically don’t have to workout, I am at coxswain weight naturally thanks to my wonderful parents giving me the right metabolism and body for coxing.  (Thanks Mom and Dad!)  I, however, feel motivated and inspired by my teammates to stay fit especially for the odd days when weather keeps us on land and a team “jog” (which is really a full on run for me)  is scheduled for practice.  I want to make sure I’m ready to workout with the team and lift with the team.  It helps me experience a small glimpse of what they go through so when I have to ask for more during a workout on the water they know I am fully aware of what I’m asking them to do.

So, this summer I challenge you to stay active so you can show up to your first crew practice a better athlete and better athletically minded. Getting coached how to move your own body helps you become a better coxswain. Especially if you pay attention to how your coach is instructing you.  You might like how they tell you what to do or you might not like how they instruct you.  Either way you are learning how you like to be communicated to while you are working out.  A good coxswain would take note of the good and bad advice they receive and then bring some of that good coaching into the coxswain seat, the 9th seat.

Below is some of what I was learning while taking that running clinic from Brian. I learned that I was a heel striker and how to fix it.  I also learned how to do a prober dead lift.  Above all, this is me trying to be more athletic!

Keep a look out for more information about my coxswain only summer camp coming in 2013.  Athletic coxswains wanted!  😉

Steer Straight!


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Posted at Saturday, June 16th, 2012 in: Coxswain Training

3 Responses to “How to be a better coxswain? Become an Athlete.”

  1. KW says:

    Mary, I have a few logistics questions for you about the summer camp. Can you please advise as to where I can see responses? I have posed them in “ask” but haven’t gotten a reply.

  2. Become an athlete is not easy i think…but thats the way i live it…thanks for tips…

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