Kaitlyn Dennis


Year of Birth 1994

Hometown Kenora, Ontario

Nationality Canadian

College Green Templeton

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 2 of 4

What are you studying? DPhil in Cardiovascular Sciences.

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I really enjoy learning about metabolism and how the heart uses various fuels (glucose and fat) to produce energy during exercise and in disease. I am hoping to continue research following my DPhil, ideally returning to work in Canada.

Future ambitions? I want to apply some of the lab-based skills I have developed to working with high performance athletes. My dream job would be to work as a physiologist in elite sport and help athletes achieve their goals.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? Balancing rowing and academic life for me involves planning ahead. I spend Sunday evenings writing out my lab schedule and have a weekly planner with a rough outline of what I need to do each day, which helps me to remain focused and not become overwhelmed. I also spend a few hours doing meal prep one day a week, so I am able to grab containers of food out of the fridge in a hurry.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing competitively at the University of Guelph in Canada during my second year of undergrad. I had recently finished competing as a Judo athlete and was aiming on focusing on my academics. However, focusing solely on academics was short lived and I wanted a new athletic challenge. I contacted the Head Coach of Gryph-on Rowing, Dave Leger, and showed up to selection camp in the Fall of 2014. I was instantly hooked.

What was your first club? Kenora Rowing Club and University of Guelph.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? My favourite part of rowing for Oxford is being able to wake up every day ready to work hard towards a common goal with a strong group of women. Being a part of the OUWBC squad has given me purpose outside of my academics, which has helped me to become a more well-rounded and successful student. The squad has been an important part of my support system throughout the challenges being faced this year.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I rowed for five years as a lightweight at the University of Guelph prior to coming to Oxford. My biggest achievement so far was winning the 2018 Canadian University Rowing Championships (CURCs) Lwt 2X in my final year.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No.

Your favourite race so far? The OU-WBC and University of London fixture in 2020. It was some of our last race preparation before we were set to face Cambridge and we gave our all every stroke. I felt after that fixture we were on track for a really great Boat Race.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I drink a lot of beetroot juice the week leading to a race and love espresso shots right before hopping in the boat.

Your sporting idol? Clara Hughes, multi-sport Olympian and mental health advocate.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Hayley Wickenheiser or Christine Sinclair. Both women inspired me as a young athlete growing up in Canada.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? ‘I am building a fire, and everyday I train I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match’ - Mia Hamm.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Outside of rowing, I enjoy road cycling. I am hoping to enter a few races once the Boat Race is finished.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? We have had to get creative this year in how we train, especially on land. We have a team Google doc where the squad can upload their scores for certain workouts and tests. Even though we can’t all be together during training, I love seeing how fast my teammates are going during erg workouts. they inspire me to push harder every session and hold me accountable to always give my best.