Great Britain’s Gaffney is heading to the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships this coming weekend in Long Beach, California and he’s planning to take home a title.

He talked to World Rowing about the upcoming championships and his indoor rowing journey.

World Rowing: You will be taking part in the 2019 World Rowing Championships after just setting a new World Record in the men’s para PR3 category, how are you feeling going into this event?
Sean Gaffney: I feel confident I will perform as I expect to. Training has gone well and I am achieving or beating my targets. Hopefully this will transfer into a good performance on the day.

WR: In the weeks leading up to an indoor rowing competition what does your training schedule look like?
SG: Having learnt the hard way last year I can no longer do the volume of training I used to - I try to get quality over quantity. I train 4-5 row sessions a week following a plan set by Casey Clarke of Sub 7 Indoor Rowing club. This varies from speed to tempo to distance to build my engine. I try and fit in an hours stretch and foam roller every day- more important than ever as I get older! I also weight train 4 times a week and use swimming to cross train and improve flexibility and recovery. 

WR: Last year Milan Lackovic beat you by 3 seconds and you are racing him again this time. What do you expect?
Last year I was unable to train for the six weeks leading up to the event due to injury. Milan will no doubt have improved his times in the last 12 months and I hope that it is another equally close race but hopefully this time in my favour.

WR: What would be your words of inspiration for other amputees to continue taking part in sport and pushing themselves to excel?
SG: Since taking up the sport in 2016, aged 45, I feel I have done quite well. This has been done by self learning by YouTube videos and hours spent in my garage on a Concept2. Imagine what a could have been capable of if I had started earlier and joined a club! Be willing to accept failure and know that perseverance and hard work can see you break you’re own limits and surpass the expectations of those who doubt you.

WR: What inspired you to take up indoor rowing?
In 2016 I was told that had I been younger I could have been world champion. I don’t like being told there are limits to what I can achieve so I set out to do it.

WR: Was there a point when you realised ‘hey I’m good at this’?
SG: After three months of training I came second to Jordan Beecher, an excellent rower who gave me tips and encouragement. Jordan has since gone on to row the Atlantic. I knew that if, after 3 months I was so close to beating him, with time and effort I could hopefully get to his level. 

WR: What is your fastest time on the erg?
SG: I currently hold overall world records from 500m to half marathon distance. Most of these were set late last year and I feel I can already improve on them.  On my to-do list is the marathon distance.

WR: What’s the craziest indoor rowing workout that you’ve done?
SG: I am currently trying to set the 30 min world record at restricted stroke rate of 18. I already hold the record but this was at r20, I know need to focus on the connection with the machine and technique. It’s just a matter of setting off at a brave enough pace and being stupid enough to hold on.

WR: Any advice that you’d give to other para-rowers starting out on the indoor rower?
Just get on and do it. No matter your disability it is a case if using, benefiting and enjoying the machine. Once you have started you will improve and you will soon find yourself beating you PB’s and setting yourself new goals. 

The 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships is on 24 February. To follow the event click here.