By Marcy SanchezMarch 7, 2018
FORT BLISS, Texas - To most athletes, a one-minute sprint may not sound too challenging. Add in resistance, full-body motion and other competitors, and the task may not be as easy as it sounds anymore.
Adaptive rowing, also known as indoor rowing, is one of two inaugural events at this year's Army Trials, being held at Fort Bliss, Texas from March 2 -- 9, testing athletes' endurance and speed with the timed competition's one-minute sprint event and four-minute endurance event where distance determines the winner.
"It's like doing (running) sprints," said adaptive rowing coach, Robyn Womac. "You definitely have to have a certain mindset because it is a very high intensity activity. It's very mental, in order to maintain that pace they have to be thinking about a lot of different things at once."
For Staff Sgt. Steven Baugus, the new competition presents a new opportunity to challenge himself both mentally and physically.
"I'm all about the challenge, that's what I came here for," said Baugus, a native of Mount Clemens, Michigan. "(Adaptive rowing is) different because you don't always get to see your other competitors. You know they're strong but you can't tell how strong until competition day."
"A lot of Warrior Transition Battalions are looking for low-impact sports for the athletes," said Womac, whose background in adaptive rowing spans over a decade of work with ill, injured and disabled youth and Soldiers. "The only sports WTBs really had were aquatics and cycling if Soldiers were cleared for those activities. Adaptive rowing is low impact while being a high intensity, cardio and aerobic activity."
Baugus, an armored crewman out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky who has deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, credits sports such as adaptive rowing with helping him manage his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He expects to also compete in cycling, field & track, shooting, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball events.
"Just about anything physical I'll compete in. I've always been the Soldier that gets out there to lead the way and I want to be the best for it," said Baugus. "Especially in a leadership position now, I want to lead the way and show Soldiers it's going to be hard, it's going to hurt but it's not going to stop me."
"Soldiers are athletes. They want to compete, they want to get after it, they don't want to be told no," said Womac. "For months and years, depending how long (Soldiers') recovery and treatment is, they may still have open wounds and bandages and have been told for so long 'no you can't do this.' (Adaptive rowing is) a head game, it's completely different for everyone."
Over 70 Soldiers and Army veterans are vying for a spot on Team Army to go on and compete against other service branches at this year's Department of Defense Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Last year's Invictus Games, the international-level competition, consisted of six indoor rowing categories classified as IR1 to IR6 with the former category designated for triple amputees or those with complex trauma and the IR6 category for athletes with minimal or no physical injury such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The other categories mirror Paralympic indoor rowing categories.