Crew coach Caviston breaks world mark

Daily Sports Writer
Published March 12, 2002

Mike Caviston, a lecturer in Michigan's Kinesiology department and the Michigan rowing team's conditioning coach is no stranger to world records. Back in 1988 he set the overall world mark for lightweights in the 2000 meters. So when Caviston went to the 2002 C.R.A.S.H.-B. World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston over spring break, he had a feeling that the Senior Lightweight record, for men between the ages of 40 and 49, was within his reach.

"I just turned 40 and I had been watching the age-group record (for the some time)," Caviston said. "I knew it was something I could break. I thought if I had a good year of training, then I'd be able to get the record."

Caviston was right. His time of 6:18.20 was good enough for first place in the event and a new record. He hopes that this new mark will hold up longer than his last one - which stood for just a week.

"It happened so fast that I wasn't really that attached to it," Caviston said of losing his first world record. "When I pulled my test, I didn't even know what the record was. I didn't realize I had set it until about an hour later when they told me. So I wasn't invested in it."

This time around, Caviston was more aware of the world mark. It served as a motivation for him throughout a rigorous workout regimen.

"He does all the workouts (that the team does) plus more," Michigan rowing head coach Mark Rothstein said.

Despite his busy schedule in Kinesiology, Caviston still manages to work out 10 to 11 times each week.

"My schedule varies a lot, but since I work in the CCRB I can usually find time to train," Caviston said.

The coach's commitment to rowing began back in 1979 when he was an undergraduate at the University. As a freshman, he saw a race on TV and decided it would be a great sport to get involved in.

"I saw a flyer on campus for anyone interested in the rowing club, so I showed up and got involved," Caviston said.

He rowed with the club program throughout his undergraduate tenure. After graduation, Caviston continued his connection with the sport by coaching novices for the club program off-and-on for 15 years. Rothstein, who knew Caviston as a rower with the men's team and a coach for the women's club program, approached the coach before last season about joining the women's varsity staff. For the last two years, Caviston has played an important role in the team's preparation.

"He designs the workouts, as well as helps to evaluate the data, advise the coaches on the training (and) serves as a source of education for the (team as a whole)," Rothstein said.

Even though his involvement with the sport has greatly changed - Caviston now spends his time coaching rowers rather than being in a boat himself - the personal attachment that he developed as an undergraduate 23 years ago remains strong.

"It's a unique sport for sure," Caviston said. "I definitely like the physical challenge."

Although he's unsure if he'll make it back to Boston to defend his victory next season, Caviston is positive that he will continue to push himself through a difficult training schedule.

"I set my personal record this year, I've set a new personal record each of the last five years, so I'm just curious about how far I can go," Caviston said. "I definitely want to train intensely just a little bit longer and see if I can get still faster times."