Q - Power

Indoor Rowing Team

Comparative 2k WRs

Men -v- Women: Comparative 2,000m World Records

I was recently asked by a leading indoor rower whether I considered that the 2,000m World Record in her current age category was soft, or whether I considered that, if they were to succeed in breaking it, it would amount to any less of an achievement than achieving the World Record in other age group categories. My initial reaction was that obtaining any World Record is a remarkable achievement, but I wanted to produce some empirical evidence to support the reaction.

Whereas this exercise has doubtless been performed before, I have tabulated the 2,000m World Records as they stood on 5th June 2012 for comparative purposes.

I have not only compared the change in performance in each of the 4 officially recognised categories (men and women; heavyweight and lightweight), but have also determined what percentage of the relevant male power output women seem able to achieve.
There are some very clear trends. Performance tends to slightly improve between 19-29 and 30-39 before falling with age. Heavyweights lose performance more rapidly than lightweights (probably due to a greater rate of loss of muscle mass) with the two converging in the 70s. Men and women show similar age-based performance characteristics.

Although the gender-based comparison data is open to interpretation, it would appear that among heavyweights from 55 years upwards, women are generally about 4-5% behind where they could be (excepting W/Hwt65-69), approximating to about 12 seconds (or 3s/500m) at around 7:30 pace. 

With regard to the lightweights, women have performed relatively better than their heavyweight counterparts and are keeping up with the men, if not bettering them in some categories. The one notable exception is the W/Lwt75-79 category where the record is some 30 seconds slower than it should be. No disrespect whatsoever is intended to the holder of that record and the enormous amount of work put in to achieve it.
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