Across 13 Events, 2 Genders, 13 Age Groups, and 2 weight classes:  there are 676 Individual World Records available on the Concept2 website using a static (no slides) Indoor Rowing Ergometer. Besides these titles, athletes can attempt records for Adaptive Athletes in 16 classification and there are several ones for the select few with ultra-distance ambitions.

All of them are up for the taking for the ones courageous and determined enough to fight their demons and ready to put up an outstanding athletic performance. The reward is to be listed on the Concept2 website and a certificate from the company.

You can’t cheat the machine

Of course, there are strict rules how to submit and get a World Record approved. You can get your record approved by witnesses if you rowed in a public place or at a public event, you can send in a video of your performance or it can be verified by a verification code from the monitor of the Concept2 indoor ergometer. But these are just the official rules.

Sid Zacharais as he completes 1000 meters on the Concept 2 rower. (photo from Darien Atria)

For many years now ,the whole Concept2 online logbook has been operating on an honor system. There are minimal rewards to gain and it is an honest and passionate community. Also, the Concept2 indoor rowing machine both mechanically and software wise is built to be “uncheatable”, so there is only one thing you can cheat and it is yourself. Your performance is monitored every stroke, every moment while you are using the machine and the data will clearly reflect your performance, kind of like holding a mirror to your inner fitness.

By the numbers

No matter your age you can be a record holder. Currently the youngest athlete with a world record is 12 (multiple) and the oldest is 101 (2017 – Sid Zacharias, USA – Male, Lwt, 100+, 1k – 8:24.8). Out of 676 only 537 are taken so there are some that were never attempted. More than 50% of the Records were set in the past 16 months and in 2017 there are already 165 new records. 99% of the records were broken since the year 2000 leaving only 5 records from the past century.

Leo Young still holding the 500m World Record at 500m he set in 1991 – check out that Model B, which was the newest model at that time.

  1. 1999 – Rob Waddell, NZL – Male, Hwt 19-29, 2k – 5:38.3
  2. 1998 – Fie Udby, DEN -Female, 12 and Under, 2k – 7:30.3
  3. 1998 – Andy Ripley, GBR – Male, Hwt, 50-54, 2k – 6:07.7
  4. 1996 – Su Larcombe, GBR – Female, Hwt, 40-49, 5k – 18:45.2
  5. 1991 – Leo Young, AUS – Male, Hwt, 30-39, 500m – 1:10.5

Some Countries are producing more Records than others. US athletes own 43% of the Individual records owning 229 out of 537 followed by GBR (100), AUS (39), NZL (33). These 4 countries produced 3/4 of the top performances

“I always thought records were there to be broken.” – Michael Schumacher

The ones to beat

Although we could talk about the battle between Eric Murray and Martin Sinkovic, the dominance of Graham Benton at longer distances in his age division or many female and lightweight records, there are three that we’d like to highlight that require a nearly non-human attempt.

1. 2017 – Ross Love, USA – Male, Hwt 30-39, 100m – 0:12.8

Ross Love was setting the new 100m World Record, just a few months ago

There were many attempts, even in the recent years to overtake this record with Ross taking his title back at the beginning of this year. To highlight some of the statistics of the performances: most of the attempts come from Strongman type athletes that are able to produce around 1300 average Watts or holding around an average of 4500 Cal/h with an average 500m pace of 1:04.2. Although you only need to hold it for a little over 10 seconds, with that power output it feels like an eternity. Everything needs to align for this attempt. Imagine when 0.1 seconds mean about 2% of power output difference that can shatter your dreams to beat the record.

2. 1991 – Leo Young, AUS – Male, Hwt, 30-39, 500m – 1:10.5

The longest standing World Record that tempted so many in the past is the record to beat. Phil Clapp (1:12.8), Ross Love (1:11.9), Sam Loch (1:11.4) are the 3 fastest public attempts in the near past to take the “Crown”. There are many preparing to be the World’s best at the 500m this year. Will this 26-year-old “out of this world” performance be replaced in 2017? According to our sources, more than one person thinks so and they are training for it right now — we’re looking at you, Sam Loch.

  1. 1999 – Rob Waddell, NZL – Male, Hwt 30-39, 2k – 5:36.6

Maciej Maciejewski from Poland has the ability to be the fastest man in the World in 2017

Rob is the World Record holder for 2 age groups at this distance. The fastest verified time in the 2017 season is from Maciej Maciejewski (5:40.5), the 7th fastest documented of all time. Although he is focusing on shorter distances as of now, we hope he will also attempt to beat the record for this most prestigious distance in the rowing community.

What it takes to be a Record Holder

When it comes to World Records we think it is 45% physical, 45% mental, 5% support and 5% luck. Just to have great technique, outstanding conditioning, mobility and raw strength alone won’t even take you halfway. You need to be determined, disciplined, recover properly, dial in your nutrition and have a strict training and a race plan. You need to have the right support group of coaches, friends and other communities. And finally, there is the luck factor. Since all these performances are on the border of what’s humanly possible, everything needs to align perfectly for the record. There is no place for mistakes, or 99% moments. You need to be focused maximally on one thing and one thing only, to execute the plan and beat the old record.

So with a little (a lot) luck the Records above can be broken, because there always be someone who wants to be the best. And for those of us who rowing so much, it will be a feast to see these performances. Let us know what you think: which record will be broken in 2017?

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