Athlete Spotlight - Anna Schroeder
Think you have what it takes to be the best in whitewater rafting? For raft racers it takes more than just a love of the river. It takes courage, dedication, teamwork, and a certain love of adversity. To learn what it takes to be part of this elite group of boaters we caught up with Anna Schroeder of the US women's R6 rafting team heading to the 2017 World Rafting Championships in Japan to find out first hand what it takes to be one of the best.
RM: How did you get into whitewater rafting and when did you start your racing career?
Anna: I got into whitewater rafting when I was 21. After a spring break multiday trip on the Gila in New Mexico, the guide of my boat told me that I should become a raft guide. Something about having big shoulders... So I did. I grew up as a competitive swimmer and loved being outside so it was a natural step to take. My first time racing was in 2012 when Tana Deklevar pulled me off the street to race at CKS Paddlefest. About a year later Cariann Brown called me up about the formation of a new raft team and ask me if I was interested in joining. And that's all she wrote.
RM: What does your training plan look like? How many days a week do you spend on the water and in the gym?
Anna: I train almost every day. I spend two days strength training, 1-2 days aerobic work/energy system work, and 2 days minimum on the water with the team. I’ll spend 1 day at the pool paddling on the side. Pool paddling is not my favorite thing- it tends to put a significant amount of pressure on my shoulders. I feel like the gym I work with, Ethos Colorado, can better prepare my body for paddling without the risk of injury. I also always opt outside to train like backcountry ski, climbing, hiking, or biking. The US Women's Open division is competitive. If you don't train, you will lose. And I've lost plenty of times and we had some great training under our belts. But that's rafting. It's a multidisciplinary sport that taxes every aspect of an athlete - endurance, strength, technique, and the mental aspect. Japan will be my first World Championship to compete in, and I can't wait to experience international competition.
RM: What rivers do you use for most of your training?
Anna: The team takes laps on the Arkansas River. Tana and Jen H. live in the Arkansas River valley so it’s a convenient location to stay a weekend and get training in. Most guides on the team have worked there so it’s like coming home.
RM: What is your favorite discipline?
Anna: Slalom! The technical aspect is challenging but exciting and everyone has to work together. It’s fun to work through lines together and see how to take separate ideas and merge them into one run.
RM: If a new boater is looking to get into rafting, what do you feel is the most important piece of advice for them?
Anna: Take the time to learn. You might not be picking up the J-stroke as fast as everyone else, but keep putting in the time and practicing and you’ll get there. Don’t rush the process.
RM: If you could do one thing to bring people together to inspire them in rafting what would that be?
Anna: I think lead by example is the best way to inspire people. I love rafting. I have so much fun and have met amazing people along the way. People see that and think "Hey, I want to be a part of that". You can and we want you to be a part of the boating community! The world is a crazy place these days, and feeling like you are part of an inclusive, happy community can make all the difference.