The new World Record now stands at 5:57.4. Stephansen’s former record, set in 2009, was 5:58.5. This makes Stephansen, 23, the fastest both on and off the water. At the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Stephansen became the World Champion in the lightweight men’s single sculls for the first time.

Stephansen is used to setting indoor records. As a junior he earned a string of World Records on the indoor rowing machine establishing the fastest time as a 17-year-old, as an 18-year-old and then becoming the fastest lightweight in the world in 2008 as a 19-year-old with a time of 6:02.2.

Henrik Stephansen

The Dane then challenged his own record until finally at the start of 2009, Stephansen became the first lightweight to break the six-minute barrier, setting the new standard at 5:58.5. He has remained the only lightweight to go under six minutes. To compete in the lightweight class on the rowing machine competitors must be 75kg or less.

The dream of Stephansen’s is to race at the Olympic Games and as the lightweight single is not an Olympic event, Stephansen is looking to qualify for London in the open single. In Denmark lightweight rowing is very competitive with the two Olympic lightweight boats for men, the lightweight double and lightweight four, hard to break into. Already these two boats have qualified for London and are stacked full of 2008 Olympic medallists including three-time Olympic Champion, Eskild Ebbesen.

Behind Stephansen at the Danish Indoor Rowing Championships, Steffen Bonde Jensen finished second in a time of 6:03.1 with Mads Rasmussen in third at 6:09.9, Morten Joergensen fourth in 6:11.2 and Eskild Ebbesen fifth in 6:11.8. Jensen is a world medallist from the lightweight quad, Rasmussen is part of the Danish lightweight double and Joergensen and Ebbesen are part of the current lightweight four as well as being Olympic Champions from the 2008 lightweight four.

Juliane Elander Rasmussen won the lightweight women’s category in a time of 7:07.3. Rasmussen has been competing internationally since 1999 but took time off after the 2009 season to have a baby. She came back to competition in 2011 and, along with partner Anne Lolk Thomsen, qualified the lightweight women’s double for the London Olympics. Thomsen finished second behind Rasmussen at these Indoor Rowing Championships in a time of 7:10.0. Helen Nygaard Olsen was third.

In the open women’s category Fie Udby Erichsen pulled off an impressive time of 6:38.6. This time is 10 seconds off the World Record and just one second outside the Danish record. Erichsen currently represents Denmark in the women’s single. Second and third went to Margit Haahr Hansen and Dyrlund Mette Petersen respectively.