Coxing Q&A Racing

Question of the Day

I know you talked about coxswains trying to lose weight, but do you also feel strongly against coxswains trying to gain water weight before weigh in?

Yes. I fully get why coxswains take this approach but it’s just as big of a risk as trying to unhealthily lose weight. Although it’s rare that for something serious like this to happen, it’s not worth it … at least in my opinion … just to put on a few pounds. Drinking large quantities of water (1-2 gallons always tends to be the go-to amount for people) before weigh-ins (especially when done in a short period of time) puts an extreme amount of stress on your bladder (and kidneys too) because of the amount of excess urine it produces, which can lead to not-fun infections.

The more serious issue of overhydrating yourself though is hyponatremia, which is when your brain starts to malfunction due to an electrolyte imbalance. One of the electrolytes that can get messed up is your potassium, which gets depleted through sweating or urination if you drink too much water. Sodium is the other. This is, like I said earlier, rare but you can still experience side effects from drinking too much, even if you’re not going to that far of an extreme. It can give you a headache, make you act weird (not weird in a socially awkward, funny way – weird in a “this is not this person’s normal behavior/personality” kind of way), cause you to become uncoordinated, and/or become nauseous (or vomit), amongst other things.

Related: How does getting weighed in work during the spring season? I’m a coxswain for a collegiate men’s team where the weight minimum is 125. I’m naturally under 110, so what’s going to happen? Sand bags? Will it be a problem?

The year I raced at nationals I saw a coxswain get really sick like this and I found out from my coach later on that it was because she’d been drinking so much water, partially because it was pretty warm outside and partially because she was trying to gain a few pounds before her race. The EMTs ended up taking her to the hospital as a result because she was just so out of it. Even though you might not fully get to the point of damaging your organs, you’ll still at the least feel the symptoms of it. You don’t want to do anything that’s going to cause you to be anything less than 100% when it comes time for you to race. It’s just not a smart thing to do regardless of whether it’s done over a long period of time or a short one. I know that people are gonna do it regardless but it’s not something I personally endorse.

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