Rhiannon Heard


Year of Birth 1994

Hometown Abbots Langley

Nationality British

College Trinity College

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 2020

What are you studying? Engineering Science

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The most interesting part of my PhD has been the development of new technology which has gathered data that could not previously be collected. Being the first person to observe a new piece of science after solving an often unstructured and challenging problem is a unique experience and certainly gives you a ‘Eureka’ moment.

Future ambitions? To meet future challenges and opportunities with a level of enthusiasm and dedication that allows me to make a difference.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I carefully plan and timetable my experiments and data analysis in advance of each week so I stay on task. I also keep both my supervisors and my coaches updated with my work/training load so that I can adjust one or the other during particularly heavy training or experimental times. I find by keeping both parties informed it helps build a healthy balance between training and work.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing at Trinity College during my undergraduate degree predominantly because I’d previously done a lot of sports throughout school, but had never had the opportunity to try rowing. Hence, I went to the college taster day in Fresher’s Week and really enjoyed the camaraderie that came from learning to row in a group and so promptly signed up.

What was your first club? Trinity College Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? Training with a group of dedicated, like-minded and supportive women who strive to achieve their best both on and off the water.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I learnt to row at Trinity College during the first and second year of my undergraduate degree, where our college had a particularly successful bumps campaign and I achieved two sets of blades from torpids and eights bumps racing. However, I took a break from rowing in my third and fourth year of my undergrad to play water polo for the university. I returned to rowing at college level at the start of my DPhil and joined the OUWBC development program in my second year before trialling for the first time last September. Having only competed in two external regattas outside of bumps racing prior to trialling, I found the racing opportunities presented by training with OUWBC thrilling. This led to my biggest achievement in my short rowing history, which was to be selected for the five seat in the 2020 Osiris crew.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? Though I was selected for the 2020 Osiris crew, the Boat Race did not go ahead last year.

Your favourite race so far? Bumps racing: Torpids 2015.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I usually try and prioritise sleep and nutrition the week leading up to race day, so that if I don’t get good sleep the night before or am not feeling super hungry because of nerves I am still well rested and fuelled on the day.

Your sporting idol? Dame Katherine Grainger or Sir Steve Redgrave.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Dame Katherine Grainger.

What gets you through a tough session?

Do you have a mantra, rituals? My electrolyte sports drink and knowing the rest of the team are also doing everything they can to make us the best team possible.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I enjoy swimming and water polo, having competed with the University of Oxford varsity squad on three occasions against Cambridge.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I think focusing on the end goal and knowing everyone else is working just as hard as you to achieve their best really keeps you focused. Also, Zoom training sessions and socially distanced coffee dates with other squad members, who all love rowing and can’t wait to get back on the water, provides really good motivation for being resilient during long stretches of erging in lockdown.