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Discovering the SpeedCoach GPS2 as a Masters Rower

Discovering the SpeedCoach GPS2 as a Masters Rower

NK Sports' SpeedCoach® GPS 2 performance rowing monitor delivers value with on-water readings, built-in workouts, and superb analytics for a Masters rower without a coach, training hard but not competing.

Do any of these describe you?

  • You are a Masters rower who has completed a Learn to Row and now has one or two years of experience.
  • You row with a fitness or recreational group or perhaps you train with a competitive crew with eyes on your national championships, even the World Rowing Masters Regatta.
  • Lately, you have started stroking your crew boat.
  • You have just taken a deep breath and bought a single.
  • You are like me, someone who has rowed for close to 25 years in a small but enthusiastic club with limited coaching.
  • You belong to a big club where the coaches are spread too thin and Masters rowers don't get the time and attention they deserve. And we know that coaching masters is different.

Consider Jeffrey McCallum, who learned to row in his 60's. He held off buying a SpeedCoach for several years. He wanted to get grounded in the basics of the sculling stroke before adding the instrumentation. Jeffrey's geek and detail side loves the data, which is more meaningful to him now that he understands rowing better. He is considering competing, and the SpeedCoach is especially useful as he works on drills, pyramids, and long pieces. Sound like you?

The story of my SpeedCoach

Perhaps you are somewhere along a similar journey. Mine started when I trained to race for several years in a quad. Our coach would use a stopwatch to tell us what stroke rates we rowed. I stopped competing, now rowing doubles with partners who enjoy rowing long and hard. We used to strap a watch onto the crossbar holding the rigger. Stroke would have to count for 15 or 30 seconds to know the rate more or less, then hold it by feel. It was challenging when the watch slipped around the bar and the face was no longer visible during a piece.

Over the last ten years, I have begun primarily rowing the double with Peter. Our club no longer has a coach and we do not have a set training program. We decide on a workout or steady state row each day once we are on the water. Nothing fancy, maybe pyramids early season, then ladders as the summer progresses and timed pieces at varied rates, alternating with steady state rowing. We see progress over the short season in measures like which bridge we row to, being able to do harder or longer pieces and a few other qualitative aspects. Both of us are analytical and like to discuss details on technique but neither of us are data nerds. Every row, we swap seats – equally bowing and stroking. We love it. ,/p>

We began with the watch jimmied onto the rigger mount. Peter decided to buy a StrokeCoach. We weren't training to race, and that product seemed well-suited to our needs. The lower price point was nice too. For the 2022 season, we loved using it, and we agreed that it made our rowing better. Much easier to check our rate or track distance or stroke count for whatever workout we had decided on. Near the end of the season, Peter lent his StrokeCoach to his son, who used it with the provincial rowing team. Sadly at some point it ended up in our turbid river, never to be seen again.

I needed to buy a new waterproof watch. I decided to buy a Garmin but found the purchase decision overwhelming with far too many models to choose from. I read a blog post on and just bought the model he mentioned. I am happy with the watch and use it cycling, walking and cross-country skiing as well as rowing.

Peter also bought a Garmin, a different model. We begin the 2023 rowing season relying on our watches. We found it fascinating that there were differences, albeit small, in what we saw when we both uploaded to Strava and compared. It was hard to see the stroke rate on a watch on a moving wrist especially without my reading glasses. Volker Nolte has pointed out an inherent flaw in the measurement by watch, since your arm is moving, not just the boat.

Then my SpeedCoach GPS2 with Training Pack arrived. Actually it was sent to Peter's home since I was traveling at the time of shipping. He got it up and running. When I first got back, I was just happy to get into the boat, hit start on the SpeedCoach and use it for on-water feedback. Clearly a step up from the StrokeCoach, showing more metrics. Especially great to see the 500m split.

Digging deeper

The SpeedCoach is fantastic at its most basic usage. I was now ready to delve into its other features. First discovery was the built-in workouts that came with the Training Pack. Amazing! The Single Distance or Single Time options were like the workouts we would devise using the display metrics. Intervals proved to be a treasure trove. We started with the first on the list: 5X 5:00 min work/4:00 rest. Loved it! I repeated it a couple of times and then tried the 5X 1,000 m + 4 min rest – even better! Something about the combination of distance and time appealed to us. There are more workouts for us to try.

Now for analysis. Piece of cake to set up an account on LiNK Logbook. Uploading my data was more challenging when I could not get my computer to find the SpeedCoach – I did not have a dongle. Instead I downloaded the Logbook app to my phone. With the help of their instructional PDF, the two devices quickly began communicating.

I finally understood the "Just Go" feature. That is anything except a built-in workout or one you add yourself. Any outing could include Just Go elements along with one or more workouts. The power of recording a distance or a timed piece as one of the built-in workouts became clear – so easy to identify and isolate for analysis. The available information was brilliant. I was thrilled that my SpeedCoach and Training Pack already included the recent app and LiNK Logbook update. It is helpful to be able to select segments for a more detailed look. I especially liked comparing multiple outings. Even without a coach to link technique to the data, we could see that we were improving. I realized that we could do an immediate look at the summary data on the dock and scroll through what was in the memory from past sessions while the row was still fresh. A quick comparison with what I could see on Strava confirmed the value of the Training Pack and Logbook – so much more detail and easy to drill into the workouts.

I haven't tested

There is a lot more baked into the SpeedCoach.

  • Since we do not train with a coach, we have not tested the live-stream aspect.
  • An impeller might make a difference, but not at our level. We can see a clear difference between rowing upstream and downstream, even late in the summer when the flow is diminished. Wind is a factor in our workouts, and an impeller would not help with that.
  • The boat doesn't have an EmPower Oarlock, which would add more insights and data.
  • I don't row wearing a heart rate monitor.
  • Although I like Strava to see all my sports in one place, I did not try connecting the Logbook data to Strava, being satisfied with what I saw on LiNK Logbook.
  • We have not yet created our own workouts. Something to try next season.


As a Masters rower who does not compete, I am thrilled to now be rowing with a SpeedCoach GPS 2. Decisions at time of purchase are few and easy: StrokeCoach vs. SpeedCoach and your bumper color. The instrument is invaluable during the row. The Training Pack features take it to another level, especially for the built-in workouts and the level of detailed yet understandable data accessible with LiNK Logbook. Peter and I felt that our rowing was improving over the summer – now we know for sure.