For Olympic athletes, Tempe Town Lake rates among top rowing venues

Henrik Rummel and Seth Weil have been training hard at Tempe Town Lake for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Both men have represented the U.S. at previous Olympic competitions, and Rummel, above, says the man-made urban lake near downtown Tempe is an ideal training spot. A morning training session begins with stretching exercises and includes a grueling 20 kilometers of rowing the placid waters in a tiny craft that affords little room for creature comforts. With two workouts a day, six days a week, it’s stern stuff for two men who dream of attaining Olympic gold.
– Photos by Billy Hardiman for Wrangler News

By Noah Kutz

In simple terms, the possibility of competing in the Olympics becomes nothing more than a dream for most athletes. The likelihood of actually winning an Olympic medal remains even more illusory.

But for those who have competed in one Olympics after another, the experience takes on an almost surreal quality. Train, sleep, compete, repeat— it’s almost a lifestyle for many of America’s peak performers. Every day, every month, every four years.

Henrik Rummel, a U.S. rower and recipient of the bronze medal from the team’s success in the 2012 London Olympics, thought he’d given his final attempt at the Gold after a tough break for the U.S. team in Rio de Janeiro.

However, despite his efforts to retire from the sport and make his way in the world without a paddle at his side, he simply couldn’t fight the itch to climb back in the boat.

For the past several months, Rummel, along with former Olympic teammate Seth Weil, have trained at Tempe Town Lake to help prepare themselves for Tokyo in 2020.

“Tempe Town Lake is probably one of the best places I’ve ever trained,” says Rummel, describing the lake as a low-wind, light- traffic and perfectly sized training environment. With two young children and a desire to “get back into peak shape,” Rummel and his wife decided to move from the Northeast back to the Valley, where he could train extensively and she could receive some deserved help from her family.

Weil, on the other hand, called his teammate one day and discussed the preparations for the Tokyo games, as well as the return of legendary rowing coach Mike Teti.

Weil decided to quit his job, pick up his paddle and begin training with Rummel for the long- anticipated comeback on the U.S. rowing team in the summer of 2020.

Both athletes train six days each week, conducting two workouts on most days, both morning and afternoon.

Says Rummel: “We’ll usually do around 20 kilometers [in the morning]—sometimes more, sometimes less— which is about a half marathon.” After rowing for approximately 13 miles each morning, the pair conducts shorter “power” workouts in the afternoon to focus on different elements of training.

Once Rummel and Weil have finished their preliminary training in Tempe, they will wrap up their preparation for the Olympics with the rest of the U.S. team at its headquarters in Oakland.

Rummel never thought he’d make it to the Olympics when he was discovering his passion for rowing in his youth.

His secret to success? Become a master goal- maker.

“Whatever your particular goal is, keep it small and achievable.” He says, “Once you reach that, then set another one.”

Rome was not conquered in a day, and Michael Phelps didn’t obtain 28 Olympic medals overnight. With the right mindset and the proper goals set in place, says Rummel, the dream of competing in the Olympics becomes something more than imaginable.


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