Sara Helin


Year of Birth 2002

Hometown Marlow

Nationality Half British, half Finnish

College St Peter’s College

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 2nd

What are you studying? Engineering Science

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I love the problem-solving element. It requires a lot of logical thinking and picking up on patterns. I chose this course because it is very maths based and I enjoy learning new concepts. My plan is to go straight into industry.

Future ambitions? I am not sure what path I will take, as long as my career is challenging and interesting I am sure I will find it rewarding. From school I have learnt that I generally thrive in a leadership position, making this a likely end goal in the long term.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I become a lot more efficient with my time when I have less free time. I am task focused so identifying priorities and having a flexible plan for each day really helps me home in on what needs to be done. However, I find that getting enough sleep and food are both performance enhancers as well - so I try my best to be on top of these first as they enable success.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing at school in year 9. I decided I would start after watching a friend race. I am quite competitive and thought it looked so exciting, I had to try it. I even managed to persuade a friend to sign up with me and at least stay long enough to buy the boat club themed hoodie.

What was your first club? My school’s club, Borlase Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? It has to be the people, all the team are so lovely and welcoming and the coaching is incredible - the mechanics behind everything is explained and I really appreciate it.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? My biggest achievement would have to be my medal at National Schools Regatta.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No I have not, I have only watched the Boat Race on TV with my dad - which makes being a part of the team working towards that goal feel all the more exciting.

Your favourite race so far? Probably at NSR, the atmosphere was so vibrant it made the races extra thrilling. When it was at Dorney Lake it was close enough for my parents to come, and the support they gave is something special, I couldn’t have done it without them.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? Nope. The engine is what makes the car move, not the lucky colour, and I feel this applies to the boat. I try to eat a lot of pasta before hand, but if I only have rice or something else left I do not get stressed.

Your sporting idol? To be honest, I look up to the other women in the squad, I have learnt so much from them already.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? I would be interested to see how far the raw power of someone like Tia-Clair Toomey could get us, but I also know Helen Glover would make the boat extra speedy, so of course would want her in the boat.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Sounds cheesy but pain is temporary, victory is forever! It is important to trust in the process, which is why I love the Oxford programme, the reason we train a certain way or do drills is always very clear.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I like drama/acting, and have performed for a student short film at Oxford. I am also interested in the business world around me, so I like to keep up to date with podcasts.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Just talking to a teammate makes me feel less alone when training. My favourite was going on a walk to feed the ducks and having a chat - it was wholesome.