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Erika Reineke: A Well-Balanced Training Plan Includes Time for Ping Pong

Erika Reineke’s successful battle at the recent Olympic Trials for the one spot to represent the US in the ICLA Radial at the Paris Olympics is well documented; for the 30-year-old from Fort Lauderdale,15 years of hard work is now a real thing and Reineke is on top of the job. She shares some of her plans for the next months leading up to the big show.

How are you processing the concept of “Game(s) NOW On”?
It’s a relief now that the Trials are over but there’s definitely more work to be done. We recently put together a really good training plan and I’m pretty confident in the strategy that we have in the lead up to the Games. I’m trying to up my strength and conditioning working toward the 2024 Princesa Sofia Regatta (April 29-May 6, Mallorca, Spain). That event will get me back with the international fleet – it’s been since the Worlds last August since I sailed internationally against the top girls so it will be good to check back in with them. That is the last significant regatta before the Games; we’ll be doing some small coaching regattas in Marseille, and I also lined up some training with Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN, 2020 Olympic gold medalist and current world champion) so we’re going to train together in the lead-up to the Games. I’m excited about this plan because not only do I have a really fast training partner but there’s also going to be room to work on the strength and conditioning side.

How did you manage to schedule Rindom, she must be in huge demand?
I’m never afraid to ask – if there is something I need that will help me, I just ask. We actually did some training together last year and it worked well.

How do you maintain that emotional/mental edge that you needed to get through the Trials through to the Olympics and not let your guard down?
That’s a really good question – I was really put to the test at the Trials. Going into the event I knew it was going to be really challenging and difficult and that points were going to be close. It was going to hard to score points between boats especially with the top girls being at more of an international level. Knowing and accepting that going in, I battled for every point that I could. I took each day at face value; some days were better than others. I just had to keep waiting and waiting and be very patient so that when a moment presented itself to be on the attacking foot, that’s when I had to perform and execute. I know how that feels now.

You just mentioned that the top of the US fleet is now at more of an international level – comment how the women’s ICLA Radial class is developing in the US.
There are a handful of girls who have been competing internationally for a while now, through multiple quads, and they were all present at the Trials. Currently there is also a really strong youth background, girls in college and some in high school still who are building their talent and willingness compete internationally. Even though we only had under thirty boats for the Trials, I would say six or seven are at an international level, girls who are coming up through the rankings. I do believe that the domestic trials have had a lot of value in bringing up the talent and also in making the top girls perform against each other, being able to put points between each other, so it was really challenging.

When will you start being based full-time in Europe leading up the Games?
We’ll make the move over in May. It’s more convenient for flying and eliminates getting sick. The plan is to be based in Barcelona and then fly in and out of Marseille – if there is a really great forecast in Marseille outside of training dates that we already blocked, we’ll fly there to tap into a condition that we want to work on then fly back. I think it’s a best-case scenario.

You’ll be working on the AC Women’s Team at that point, but your heart really must be with your Olympic campaign right now? Can you balance that?
I can and it’s working pretty beautifully right now which I’m really thankful for – being able to be based in Barcelona is great, first of all it’s pretty inexpensive compared to the US right now (laughs). In between training sessions in the Radial in Marseille, the AC base is open for us girls to use the simulator and learn from each other. Both complement each other – in Barcelona I have the option to further my learning in a different boat class in a different environment with great sailors.

How are you managing your diet and hydration?
On the hydration front I’m a really big fan of electrolytes – I always pack electrolyte mixes and specifically the two things that get me through are Liquid I.V. packs and Gatorade Zero (laughs), I love Gatorade! Those are huge for hydration. As for the diet, I’m still on a weight gaining program so I’m targeting the strength and conditioning in the gym to help with the weight gain but also eating to fuel the training which is mostly a high protein high carb diet.

What are you doing for relaxation and chill-time?
I keep myself busy with games and running, I recently have taken up ping-pong – my coach Erik Bowers and I joined a ping-pong club in Fort Lauderdale, and we’ve been getting better. The skills are transferable to sailing (laughs), like being patient and waiting for your opponent to make a mistake or a serve that is dealt to you that you know you can return. But relaxing doesn’t come that easy – if I have free time, I always feel like I want to go cycling or play ping pong or walk my dog!

Who are your mentors & the people getting you through this right now?
Erik worked with me on the water during the Trials, and coach Greg Wilkinson who mentors both me and Erik. Greg helps more with the execution side – Erik and I develop the plan and Greg helps us fine-tune it so we can go out and execute. Erik is the on-water coach and overseer. I’m with Erik every day so he is able to tune into how I am feeling, my fatigue levels and all the on-water stuff – strategy, how we’re going to attack the racecourse etc.

How does your family support you?
My family loves me so much, they are so supportive, and I honestly love this about them: they don’t sail (laughs)! Whenever I come to them with sailing stuff or a related problem, it’s actually refreshing to get an outside perspective, they approach it like real people would rather than sailors who wrapped around this small world (laughs). There are actually a lot of things that are super beneficial about having non sailing parents – I learned to sail because they joined a yacht club for the social activities and were like, “You’re going to go sail while we do this!” They just want me to run wild with my dreams and I owe them everything.


Photos Courtesy US Sailing & Erika Reineke


Michelle SladeErika Reineke: A Well-Balanced Training Plan Includes Time for Ping Pong