The German former competitive swimmer then went on to compete in the 2018 international rowing season as the single sculler for the German team. He finished in the medals through the World Rowing Cup series and made the final at the World Rowing Championships.

The 22-year-old, 203cm tall Zeidler comes from a rowing family. Zeidler’s grandfather is a two-time Olympic medallist, his aunt is also a two-time Olympic medallist and his father has represented Germany in rowing.

In his short, but growing, indoor rowing career Zeidler has never lost a race and he heads to the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships for the first time to compete in the men’s open 2000m race. The Championships take place 24 February in Long Beach, California, USA.

World Rowing talked to Zeidler about his indoor rowing experiences and rapid ascent.

World Rowing: Before rowing, swimming was your main sport. How did you use the indoor rower in your swimming training? 
Oliver Zeidler: As a swimmer I trained on the indoor rower mainly as a warm up before weight training and maybe two times a year for endurance training. There was no specific training but I knew the technique coached by my grandfather when I was younger and how to move on it.

WR: When you switched to rowing did your indoor rowing workouts change?
OZ: When I quit swimming, I was looking for a sport I could do along with university and a job, so the rowing machine at home offered a very good opportunity. I did longer sessions of about 12km and sometimes added some sprints, as I felt more comfortable on the erg. My father wrote a training plan for me and I experienced fun again in challenging myself, especially when I decided to compete at the German indoor champs in 2017. I really want to know what I’m capable of and at present there is no 2k score for me above the 6 minutes mark.

WR: How often do you use the indoor rower?
OZ: The erg is a very important part of my rowing training, even in the summer I use it minimum two times a week.

WR: What’s your favourite workout on the indoor rower?
OZ: I don’t have a specific workout I like the most. What’s important for me is challenging myself and finding motivation in what I’m doing. For this reason I don’t like workouts over 20k without specific exercises like rate or speed changes.

WR: Do you see the indoor rower as a necessity in your rowing training?
OZ: It is definitely necessary because it provides you with a lot of power, endurance and uncheatable facts about your fitness. Additionally, you can do much more intense training on the indoor rower compared to the training in the boat. As the indoor rowing community is amazingly huge and people can easily try it out, indoor rowing is a very important part to bring more attention to us rowers and rowing in general. In my opinion it is very important for our sport.

WR: Being winter in Germany are you still able to row on the water?
OZ: I still row on the water and will continue until the lake is frozen, I don’t row daily but a few times a week. Most of the winter training is on the erg.

WR: What is your typical day like at present?
OZ: As it is more the off season for rowers at the moment, I do a lot of endurance work. I do an endurance piece in the morning, then go to work or university. After that I drive to the regatta course or the gym and do a second session.

Saturday training and opening ceremony at the 2018 World Rowing Championships, P © Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com


WR: Are you doing anything special to prepare for the World Rowing Indoor Championships?
OZ: I’m happy that I can do some more intense workouts now, because long sessions are getting boring. I’m currently trying to get above a 32 stroke rate again and become more efficient when it’s getting hard with the muscles burning. It’s still a long way to go until Long Beach.

WR: Do you have a goal for these indoor championships?
OZ: I‘m unbeaten at indoor regattas so the goal is definitely to win another gold medal.

WR: When you are indoor rowing racing what do you concentrate on the most?
OZ: I don’t think much during a 2k race, it’s just watching the metres run down and staying on a good split or well ahead of others.

WR: Do you follow a race plan?
OZ: I should do so, but I’m terrible at pacing. I always feel unbeatable on the first 700 and pull crazy splits which punishes me after 1200m.

WR: What is your personal best for 2000m? 
OZ: My personal best is a 5:38,7 (World Record is 5:35.8) set in March 2018, by the way with terrible pacing as well.

WR: What do you think are the best conditions/place to do well for an indoor rowing race?
OZ: The best conditions are a new erg, fresh air, a cool temperature and people cheering you on the last 1000m.

WR: What would you say to someone who is starting out on an indoor rower?
OZ: I think we all know the videos of people moving on the erg in strange ways, that’s why you should definitely start with a bit of technique training first and stop if you can’t hold the technique. In the beginning it might not feel very comfortable to sit on the seat for longer sessions, just try to stay on it and move with a good technique. Maybe you can add a seat pad for comfort. Additionally, do some mobility after training for the lower back to avoid pain there.

Enter the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships here