Speed 5 with Tom Paradiso
Good day all I am please to introduce today’s Speed 5 with Tom Paradiso, Tom has been a member of the USA lightweight team for MANY years and recently competed in the 2008 Olympics as a member of the lightweight four, Tom also won a World Championships this past summer in the lightweight men’s eight. Click below for his US Rowing bio. -
http://www.usrowing.org/News_Media/Athl ... adiso.aspx
I am flattered to be chosen for a Speed 5 interview. While I do post occasionally on Rowing Illustrated, it is not usually because some asks for my opinion
I like what you have been doing with the site, keep it up!
Wolf - You the true lightweight of the USA program, for you rowed both sides last year leading up to the Olympics, (and I know you to be a good sculler as well) and you have no real issues of making weight, how do you do it, what is your secret?
Tom P -I think I just got lucky in High School that I had some great coaching from my first rowing practice. We were a sculling program mostly, but when we did sweep we rowed both sides. My coach used to tell us that if you can row both sides you have eight seats available to you in the eight instead of four. During summer rowing in high school I would try and row a different side every time we swept. My weight has never been a problem since I came down from a high of 177 my sophomore year of college. I never put on that much in the winter, so getting back to 150 is not a problem. There are advantages and disadvantages to that, however, I will never be a 6:10 guy on the erg and in selection I always have to seat race the 6:11s and 6:12s multiple times - even if I win the first one.
Wolf OK you know this is coming, your a UPENN alum, what the heck is going on there? Some of the alums are up in arms and the program has lost some of its luster, how can they get it back for we all know Tom Paradiso is not walking back thru that door anytime soon?
Tom P-I graduated from Penn a couple of years before the transition from Coach Bergman to Coach Honebein. It was a rocky transition, as can be the case when a program with a history like Penn’s decides a 20+ year coach with a history of success should step down. I don’t think it was handled as well as it could have been by athletes, alums or the administration. Right now Fred, with the heavies, and Mike Irwin, with the lightweights, are doing a great job rebuilding the mens programs. The days of getting 20 recruited rowers are gone and they have to get guys who are going to row for four years interested in rowing at Penn. The team has grown in numbers the last couple of years and we should see some of the results of that soon.
Wolf- Can you give us a break down of how the light eight race went at Worlds last year? Hell it must be nice being a World Champion!
Tom P- Having been in the light eight in 2001, 02, 03 and 04 it was interesting racing that event again. It also was great to see eight or nine crews at Worlds this year. The race went as planned for us. We were not very quick off the line (as we only rowed together less than 20 times before the final) and knew that it would be important to emphasize the start and then shift into a solid base. I don’t remember our position exactly, but we were in second or third through the first five hundred and until around the thousand. No secrets here, around the thousand Ned made a call to take the race and we did. No flutter or rate shift, we just hit the gas pedal and moved into first. We came through the last five with the lead but aware the germans were moving and the dutch were not too far back. Our sprint was controlled and again called on power more than rate. We crossed the line and that was it. It was somewhat anticlimactic as four of us immediately shifted our focus to Beijing. More on this in my answer to the next question.
Wolf- The big scuttle butt on line last year was that with the USA light four going to Worlds and racing in the eight, affected you at the Olympics, did it?
Tom P- If I had to revise our post June 25th training plan this past summer I would not change a thing. During training over the course of the winter we rowed the eight every so often to change it up and row in a boat moving at a faster speed than the four. Trials was literally the day after we finished selection that included lots of seat racing. After trials we rowed the eight a few times but mostly rowed two fours. I do not think racing in Austria in any way changed the course of events in Beijing. Here is one perspective: we got 11th in 2007 at Worlds. in 2008 we raced at worlds and got 11th again in Beijing. Same result. I don’t actually think of it that way, but that is one way to look at it. I think that our performance in Beijing was determined by the training we did over the winter and the selection camp that occurred from May 1st (not sure about the exact date there) until June 25th. Without going into it too much, we did as well as we could given the system we have in place. I personally think May and June is way too late in the year to be running seat races for the Olympics but I will save that argument for 2012.
Wolf - Back in the day we were at ARCO together for a training trip and St Patrick’s day came about, we were supposed to go out for a beer or two that evening but you and the rest of our flat mates never woke me up and left me at the center in all alone with all my Irish heritage and no beer, how did that happen? Was it NYAC vs. RBC thing?
Tom P- I think we all know whose fault that was. Sam Stit. He said you were sleeping and we should just go ahead without you. Seriously though, I don’t remember that. All I remember from that trip was when someone got in a fight with the coach and left. I do apologize however and will buy you a Green San Adams if it happens again.
Wolf- So how much longer do you plan on being in the elite rowing game?
Tom P-I think I will keep rowing at this level as long as I am having fun. I actually like rowing the single so as long as I can train in that boat and still be in good enough shape to go to camp or win trials why not keep going? I was lucky to be on the OJOP program from 2003-2007 and that really helped. Right now I have a great part time job that is really flexible and if I can pay the rent rowing and working there, I think I’m in for another four years. I also am interested to see what it is like with Tim McLaren heading up the coaching staff.
Wolf- What is your favorite racing venue?
Tom P- Has anyone not answered this question with Lucerne who has raced there? You can’t beat Lucerne for 2k racing. For head races I like anything with lots of turns and bridges, they are a great distraction from the pain of racing 5k.