I started rowing at the City of Cambridge Rowing club when I was around 13. People always told me I had the right stature for rowing because I’m tall and have broad shoulders so I thought I may as well give it a go. At the start it can be quite hard because there are so many things to think about and do at the same time but once you get it, it does become second nature.
You start racing on your home river ; so obviously the Cam for me and when you win those and your coach feels you’re ready you may go to Bedford or Peterborough or somewhere like that. After racing a lot you get loads of times for your races and get an idea of the level you are within your age group. So the first big event I did was the British indoor rowing championships in 2012, which was also merged with the European indoor championship that year. I, at the time, unusually loved ergs and my erg times were good enough for my coach to have confidence in me and so I went there with one other girl from my club and I came 5th so I was happy with that at the time. I was nervous before that but not as nervous as I would have been if it was actually in a boat. So my first national race in a single was nerve racking but my coach was always telling me adrenaline is good but being scared would hinder my performance so when it actually came to the day and being on the start line I was more calm than I expected and was excited to just do it.
Training is hard but addictive. At my height of training, I was doing two sessions a day during the week and then four hours of rowing both days at the weekend. Training was everything from cardio so running or cycling, to strength and conditioning so weights and then rowing sessions. When you’re training properly food is a fuel and so you can pretty much can eat what you want as long as there is enough carbs, protein and vegetables in there. When I was on training camps we were eating all the time, between every session.
Before a race I have a mixture of nerves and excitement at the same time, but thinking over what your race plan is, in particular your start but then not wanting to overthink anything. Then once you get over that just concentration and having to believe in yourself makes you calmer and ready to go.
Pushing through the point of tiredness and pain because you do get out the other end is one thing but mentally keeping yourself going is really tough. The feeling of winning, being proud of yourself and making others proud makes up for the lows that you will face in training. There are always going to be bad days at training when your inner perfectionist isn’t happy or you just feel too tired to continue but getting through that makes you stronger and makes winning even better.
I have so many good memories! My best memory of rowing is probably when I was younger about 14 when me and my friends from my club all went out in singles and rowed up the Cam. It was my first time in a single when I was actually happy with my rowing throughout the session. We raced up and down the reach, I just remember being really happy and it was a really early morning in the summer so it was really quiet and there was just me and my friends laughing with our coach and having a good time. Obviously my various wins and all my tankards and race memories are up there but I think that probably is my best memory. I think the best part of rowing is the teamwork and friendships you have which is such a vital part of training.
The Cam is really pretty river, once you get past the canal boats and bends I think it’s nicer though. The reach, by Fen Ditton, is great for a run side by side sprint. But my favourite part is when you go over the lock, no one else is there and it’s so green and still it’s really beautiful.
Everyone’s been really supportive, in particular my parents which is great but also necessary as I need lifts round the country whether it be to Bedford or Nottingham. My sister actually did take up rowing but she is a hockey player through and through. At City we had a fun race a couple of years ago where the parents took part so all the juniors taught their parents how to row so my mum got involved in that, it was a great laugh.
If you haven’t tried rowing before definitely give it a go, it’s very different from any other sport out there but I think it’s a great sport to be involved in and teaches you so much. The best way, if your school doesn’t row, is to email the club directly, there are tons of clubs on the Cam so I’m sure you’ll find one that’s right for you. As for my rowing ambitions; a friend and I have always wanted to row the Chanel, so maybe that? We’ll see…
I think Cambridge is so beautiful, the architecture is amazing, especially with all the old university buildings. It’s nice that it’s small because everyone knows their way round and everyone knows everyone. We are also lucky that there is so much going on, in particularly around sport.
On a summer’s day, one of my favourite free things to do is go for a picnic on Grantchester Meadows with my friends. It’s a gorgeous place and perfect for relaxing and having fun.
I guess a fun fact about me would be that half my family is Australian! If I were to have one ambition it would be to live life to full and never regret anything.