Last week, US National Team member Brooke Mooney broke the previous 2k rowing indoor world record by 1.5 seconds. She is now the fastest known woman on the RowErg for 2000 metres.
Concept2 had the honor to catch up with Mooney to congratulate her on this great achievement and to see where 6:21.1 will take her next.
Congratulations on your new world record! In comparison, do you remember your first 2k on the RowErg?
I do not think I will ever forget my first 2k on the RowErg. It was my senior year of high school, and my first year rowing. We were doing a 3 x 1500m workout on the RowErg and I thought, 'a 2k isn’t that much longer, I should see if I can do one so I have a time to send to colleges.' That is the last time I will think a 2k isn’t that much more than 1500m. I went a 7:22 and that was the only 2k I did before attending the University of Washington.
How did you start rowing?
I grew up in Saxtons River, Vermont, as a cross country skier competing at multiple junior national championships with many podium finishes. I attended a ski academy, Stratton Mountain School, from 8th grade to 11th grade. Towards the end of my time there I knew that I didn’t want to ski in college and decided to transfer schools for my senior year to Vermont Academy to pursue rowing. Before I transferred, a few ski coaches I knew had encouraged me to try rowing. I had attended a summer rowing camp at Craftsbury Outdoor Center but I had only been in a boat a few times before trying it out in college.
We understand that you come from an athletic family. Tell us about what sports you did growing up and how your family has influenced you.
Growing up my family was always very active and I believe that has helped me become a balanced athlete. I have an older sister, so I often followed her footsteps in sports, and a younger brother who followed ours. My parents had us on skis as soon as possible not because they wanted us to be skiers but because it was very accessible and a great activity. I was never a huge fan of skiing and pushed to also play tennis, soccer, Frisbee, cross country running, and swimming in school and with town teams/clubs.
After the postponement of the Olympics, I picked up my tennis racket again and started rallying with teammates on the weekend. I truly believe in the benefit of working my muscles in non-rowing ways when I get the opportunity. It has helped me stay physically balanced.
You spent many years Nordic skiing. How do these sports translate?
I think the biggest thing that translated from rowing to skiing was my understanding of training plans, what heart rate zones mean, how workloads are cycled and how it affects your body. My high school ski coach is one of the most successful coaches in the US so he had us training at a high level. We used the SkiErg during strength workouts in high school.
You’ve been a member of the US National Team since 2018 and seen success in the pair and the eight. What are you goals for 2021 (and beyond)?
I joined the National Team in June 2018, the day after graduating from University of Washington, and didn’t have a race opportunity until the 2019 World Cup season. My goal for 2021 is to race for gold at the Olympics.
I have not made any decisions for what I will do when this quad is over. I am trying to stay present and see what happens this year before deciding anything.
What is your favorite workout?
I am big into power per stroke workouts. The good ole 30 minute at stroke rate 22 on the erg is one of those workouts. This test you can do at any point of any training period and track progress. Since my first 30 minute workout at UW, this workout has helped teach me how to be more comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
What do you feel is the best workout to hone in on a 2k goal?
The last 2k I did ‘prep’ for was when the National Team attended World Indoor Rowing Championships in 2019. After doing this past 2k with no ‘2k prep’, I now see one of the best ways to prep is by believing in your training plan and just hauling on the erg or the water, whether that be for low rate 2ks, power pieces or shorter race pieces. I do not think there is a special formula to make a great 2k; it takes time, practice and the willingness to take a risk.
When did you realize the significance of the new world record?
When I finished my piece I was very happy with my PR but it wasn’t until news started traveling around the erg room and warm up area that I realized what I had done. Everyone else seemed to be much more excited than I was. That has been the response I have seen online too. Hundreds of people have reached out saying how inspired they are with the results and that an American is now the world record holder. Obviously, I am very excited to be the current world record holder but I am more excited to be able to push other rowers to be faster than they think they can be.
Sorry, we have to ask… how is 6:20 looking?
Since the start of 2021 I had it in my mind that I could break the world record for the 2k, I just didn’t know when it was going to happen. Going into the piece last week I wasn’t sure how it was going to go but I knew where I wanted to be after the first 1k. I surprised myself on this 2k and now that I have done it, I 100% have a goal of breaking 6:20. I know where and how I can improve and it makes me excited for my next 2k.
Other than rowing, how else do you spend your time?
Baking! Baking is my go to hobby right now. I love trying new recipes or just baking some classic chocolate chip cookies. It helps that I am on a team with 30 women who are eager and willing to taste test!
That sounds like a great way to fuel the team! Who else has been part of your “support crew” along the way?
There are so many people that have pushed me to be better and helped me get to where I am now. I would not have been able to set this record without the support of my coaches and competitiveness of my teammates on all the teams I have been on from skiing to rowing. My time at University of Washington really shaped me to be the rower I am today. I am very grateful for my family that has supported me in every decision I have made.