Profile interview - Dan Harris

28th February, 2019

Dan Harris. World Class Start Coach, British Rowing.
Based at Minerva Bath and the University of Bath

Dan Harris is very much part of the furniture at the Minerva boathouse: he and his squad of young athletes train every day using our facilities and those at the university. Their boats are stored in the Arnold Cooke boathouse and we share our water space with these inspiring young people. Dan’s the one on the launch – but there’s never time to chat! We put that right…

What is it that you do, exactly?

I work as the World Class Start Coach for Bath, on behalf of British Rowing. This means I run talent ID testing regularly – to try to identify and recruit more athletes. I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of the training group, coaching athletes anywhere from beginner to GB standard. I’ve done that since September 2011.

What is the criteria for getting onto the programme?

You have to pass a test: women have to be at least 178cms tall with an equal or big span and men, 188cms. If they sit that criteria, we then carry out a strength test on a Concept 2 dyno machine to establish raw strength in leg press, arm press and arm pull. There’s also a power endurance test on a Schwinn bike (looking at arms and legs) that lasts between 6 -9mins.

The athletes have to hit high standards on all of the tests to be selected, but no previous rowing experience is required.

Anyone can try out if they are tall enough: I have had athletes from J14 to senior on the programme for many years. We test throughout the year – mainly people from local schools and the universities in the south west.

So for Minerva Juniors, thinking about how rowing might play a part in their future… what’s your advice?

I think the key thing for any juniors is first of all, enjoy it! They can row alongside other sports whilst working out what sport they want to pursue long term. And educate themselves, through the help of coaches, about just how much commitment is involved to row to a high university and/or GB standard.

I have two juniors on the squad at the moment. They are Freya Cumpsty, J17, from King Edward’s School and Fin Feaver, J18, from Kingswood School.

We see you and your WCS athletes training hard at the Club and on the water… just how much work is involved?

The under 23 athletes train twice a day, six days a week on average (so around 12 sessions). Sometimes they do a couple of triple-session days. The week includes three weights sessions, 2-3 ergs and 6-7 water sessions. The juniors will train from 5-9 times a week.

And what are the rewards?

Rewards can range from a general improvement in fitness and hitting personal bests, to winning local races or competing for GB squads, and ultimately getting into the GB Senior team – as Helen Glover, Heather Stanning and others from Bath have done.

What are your own sporting ambitions for the year?

I will be the Head Coach at the U23 European Championships in Greece, which I am really looking forward to.

Wow! Didn’t know that – congratulations! What will that entail?

I’ll be in charge of a crew but also oversee the programme for all of the European U23 crews from early August until the event which is 5-8th September, at Lake Pamvotida, Ioannina in Greece.

Your Instagram account (@coachdanharris) is followed by thousands and you take great photographs of rowing on our stretch. It’s obviously a serious hobby. Have you won any photography competitions yet?

Not yet, but I’d actually need to enter them to have a chance – ha ha!

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